How to Start Saving for the Holidays in September

The holiday season is all about family, festivities, and decorations—but it is also an expensive time of the year. Between gifts, décor, travel, and party supplies, the average American spends upwards of $1,000.00 every year for the holiday season. If you don’t plan for this expense, you could end up charging all your holiday purchases and wind up in a post-holiday financial slump. It is no wonder so many New Year’s resolutions revolve around money management. The best way to avoid going into debt this holiday season is to start saving now. Here are some tips to get through December without debt or overspending.

 

Create a comprehensive list of who you are shopping for and how much you plan to spend on each person. If you already have ideas for gifts you will be purchasing, check the pricing and include that in your budget for each person. If you are hosting a holiday party, include estimations for how much you will be spending on decorations, food, drinks, and entertainment. You can refer to bank or credit card statements from last year to get a good idea of your average holiday spending. Small extras, like food for your kids’ holiday party or a bottle of wine for your neighbor, also add up so be sure to include some cushion into your estimated budget.

 

Once you have your total holiday budget number, divide it by the number of weeks between now and when you plan on starting your holiday shopping. This is the amount you will need to save each week to stay on budget. An alternative savings plan is to figure out how much you can afford to save each week and base your holiday budget on this number. If you determine you can save $50 a week for 8 weeks before you must start shopping, your holiday budget would be $400. If this isn’t enough to get you through the holidays, there isn’t much you can do about it this year. You can, however, start saving earlier next year to give yourself a more realistic budget.

 

It is a good idea to keep your holiday savings separate from the rest of your money. It can be difficult to differentiate your savings for holiday expenses from the money you use for bills and everyday expenses if they are all in the same pot. You could even go so far as to set up automatic savings transfers each week to make sure you remain true to your savings plan. If this is not an option or you are saving cash in an envelop, set up weekly calendar reminders to assist you in staying on track.

 

If you find your financial resources running thin to compensate for holiday expenses, look at your regular spending before whipping out the credit card. Examine your budget and try to find any nonessential expenses that you could cut, at least temporarily while you get through the holidays. Bulking up your holiday budget doesn’t always have to mean making cuts, though. You could increase your savings by getting a part-time holiday job. Many stores hire seasonal help during this time of the year. Or, make room for new holiday gifts by clearing out and selling some of your old things.

 

Just because the average consumer spends around $1,000.00 on holiday expenses doesn’t mean you have to. Everyone’s budget is different and you need to find a savings plan that works for your specific financial needs. There are plenty of ways to get through the holidays on a smaller budget. Take advantage of sales or create DIY gifts for loved ones. The important thing to keep in mind is that this season is about creating memories with family and friends—not getting buried under a pile of debt. People might not remember what you gift you got them from year to year, but they will certainly cherish the memories you create together.

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