The holidays are right around the corner! We know “It’s only summer,” but there’s no better time to start setting aside some money to ease the burden of holiday shopping this year. While the holidays are a great time to spend with family, relaxing, or eating fantastic food, they also bring a lot of stress. Most of the time, this stress revolves around finances and buying everyone in your family the perfect gift.
American’s typically overspend around the holidays. They exceed their budget and use credit cards, which only adds more stress to the future. But we’re here to help you start saving now, so you can enjoy the holidays this year.
1. Set a Realistic Savings Goal
Setting a realistic goal is a significant first step to getting out in front of the holidays and starting your savings plan the right way. Start by reviewing your bank and credit card statements from last year. How much did you spend and for how many people? Can you afford to save and gift that much this year? Make a list of everyone you want to shop for and set a budget per gift. Planning early will allow you to search for deals over the next 3 months, verses waiting until the last minute and having to pay exorbitant shipping prices to get the gift on time. It will also tell you how much you need to save per paycheck. Then start saving right away. The earlier you start, the less of an impact it will have on your spending over the next few months.
2. Shop Early!
Take advantage of the deals and promotions retailers run in September, October, and November. If you have made your list and begin setting money aside, you are more likely to save on your purchases. Labor Day weekend, Veteran’s Day, and Black Friday weekend are all deals that you can take advantage of if you save and shop early.
3. Add “Holiday” to Your Budget
Create a “Holiday” category within your budget that can only be used for gifts and holiday expenses. This is also a great time to cut out unnecessary spending in other categories to add to your new “Holiday” category. This could include personal shopping, Starbucks, food delivery, or streaming subscriptions. As a bonus, once the holidays pass, you can add some of your holiday savings to your emergency savings to increase your safety net! Or you can get an even bigger head start on the following year’s holiday budget.
4. Earn a Little Extra
Sometimes you’ll find that you’re not able to cut your expenses to meet your savings goals for the holidays. That’s when you either have to get creative with your gift ideas to fit your new budget or get creative with additional income sources. Clear out your basement and garage and set up a yard sale. Do your research on eBay and flip some of your old stuff for extra cash. You may be surprised what you’re sitting on. Even picking up odd jobs like pet-sitting, house-sitting, or ride-sharing can help you meet your monthly goal.
No matter how you go about it, you can’t go wrong with planning early for the holidays. These practices are also useful for saving for vacations, upgrading your house, or making a big purchase. Setting realistic goals, dividing your savings goal by each paycheck, and getting creative with your income sources can help y alleviate some of your financial stress. Do you have other ways you save for the holidays? We’d love to hear from you!