A complete guide to creating a Christmas savings plan to stay on track this holiday season. Forget the financial stress with these tips for how to save effectively for the holidays.
It’s never too early to start a Christmas Savings Plan. In fact, once the hustle and bustle of the holidays are over, I quickly roll over my savings plan for the next year.
Creating a holiday savings plan helps you stay prepared financially once the shopping madness starts. The holidays are already totally crazy, and the last thing you want to worry about is your wallet.
Save for Christmas early with this guide to keeping your finances healthy for the holidays.
About this Guide to Creating a Christmas Savings Plan
The key to creating a successful holiday savings plan is to think ahead. So congrats to you for reading this holiday budget guide! You’re already thinking in advance.
Over the years, I’ve focused in on the holidays in order to take away some of the financial stress. Each year I use a Christmas savings plan to stay on top of my holiday finances.
I’ve honed in on the process so you can create a budget-friendly Christmas. In this guide we’ll cover:
- What to include in your holiday budget
- Coming up with a savings goal
- When to start saving for Christmas
- Tips for successful savings
What to Include in Your Christmas Budget
The biggest decision to make when it comes to saving for Christmas is what exactly to include in your budget. Are you going to include holiday meals and entertaining? Holiday travel costs to visit your family? Or just gifts?
According to the National Retail Federation, Americans are expected to spend an average of $1,047.83 on holiday expenses in 2019. Of course, you may spend more or less than the average but it’s still a significant amount of money.
I like to include everything, that way I’m not hit with any surprise costs such as hosting a holiday party. The holidays are already stressful with an endless list of social obligations. I don’t want to fret about cash.
You don’t have to include any incidentals and extras. If you’re new to saving, then it might be overwhelming to include every little holiday expenditure. However, at the very least, you’ll want to include a budget for gifts.
You can itemize by person (kids, spouse, friends, family, etc) or you can create a lump sum. I find it easier to give a budget per-person when determining how much to save for Christmas gifts.
For example, I’ll budget $$ per child, $$ for my spouse, etc. Total all those amounts & that’s your gift budget.
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Picking a Number for Your Christmas Savings Plan
Once you’ve got a list of what you’re going to include in your Christmas savings plan, it’s time to choose a number.
Your target savings goal is super-personal and largely depends on your income, gift list, and if you’re including entertainment and meals.
A great way to see what you’re spending is to add up last season’s expenditures. Are you satisfied with this number? Or does it look a little high?
One way to think about coming up with a Christmas savings goal is to think about your gift philosophy. Often times, less is more when it comes to gift-giving.
Think about if you’re comfortable buying fewer things. Perhaps you can gift an experience instead of an item.
Think about other aspects of the holiday. Do you really need to buy a new Christmas sweater every year? Can you swap with a friend or shop at a thrift store instead?
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Take a critical look at where you could cut back and write it down so you have it when the season rolls around again.
Once you’ve got your ideal Christmas budget in mind, it’s time to start saving!
When to Start Saving for Christmas
There’s no wrong time to start saving for Christmas. Okay, so maybe don’t start a savings plan on Christmas Eve, but you get the idea.
The easiest time to start saving for Christmas is right now. Not to put you into a panic, but the sooner you start putting money away, the smaller increments of money you have to save.
If it’s late in the year, don’t stress. You can still start saving for Christmas, you just might have to be a bit more aggressive about it. However, you can start at a reasonable time next year. Just think of this season as a practice run.
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Determine how much you need to save by dividing your budget by the number of weeks or months left until Christmas. This is how much you need to save each period.
I like to time up my savings with my paychecks. That way I’m not tempted to spend the money, it just automatically goes into a savings account without the chance to spend it.
If you’re a contracted worker or you have an unsteady paycheck, this can be a bit more challenging. However, you can still save for Christmas if you transfer money to savings each time you get paid. You’ll just have to keep track manually in order to hit your weekly or monthly goal.
Open a Separate Savings Account
For the ultra-organized person, or if you’re tempted to spend money put into your regular savings account, consider opening a separate holiday savings account.
The best way to save is to set up automatic transfers. That way your savings become a bill instead of something you have to choose to do. The money goes away before you have a chance to miss it.
Some banks offer separate Christmas savings accounts, so ask your local bank if there are any options for you. If not, add a separate savings account or create a separate line-item for your automatic transfer and label it “Christmas Savings.”
Either way, you’ll want to somehow differentiate your holiday savings from your regular savings, so you don’t accidentally spend those dedicated savings throughout the year.
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Christmas Savings Quick Tips
Alright so now you’re well on your way towards reaching your holiday savings goal. How do you find ways to cut back on Christmas expenses?
These quick tips will help you save for Christmas throughout the year, so you aren’t hit with a mega-bill come December.
- Give less. The holidays are about making memories.
- Utilize gift cards to buy gifts. Consider spending gift cards on next year’s festivities.
- Stop frivolous spending. You don’t need new decorations every year. It’s not only wasteful but you’re over-spending too.
- Consider unique ways to give gifts that don’t require wrapping paper.
- Get a part-time side gig.
- Give your savings a jumpstart by doing a Pantry Challenge.
- Shop throughout the year to avoid taking a big hit in December.
- Build Christmas savings into a 52-week savings plan.
Cash-out your savings in early November to give yourself plenty of time to shop for presents. You can stop whenever works best for your schedule, but early November ensures that you can take advantage of all the Black Friday holiday sales.
If you take advantage of using your credit card for points during the holidays, “cash out” by transferring your savings to whatever checking account pays your bills.
Only use a credit card during the holidays if you can pay everything out in full. With a solid savings plan, this shouldn’t be an issue, but you don’t want to run up debt during the holidays.
Also, don’t forget to keep the minimum amount of money in your savings account to avoid having fees. Check with your local bank before you withdraw.
Overall, creating a Christmas savings plan is an easy way to prepare financially for the holidays.
Having a solid plan ensures that you don’t feel the financial burden at the end of the year, giving you one less thing to worry about during the busy holiday season!
When do you start saving for the holidays? What is your biggest challenge when it comes to saving for Christmas? Share your experience in the comments below.