It is best to start saving for Christmas on January 1st. While we can’t go back to January 1st right now, it is not too late to start. By saving throughout the year for Christmas, it is possible to pay cash for all the gifts you need and not have to pull out the credit card.
- Make a list of all the people you need to buy gifts for this Christmas.
Be sure to include any charities you give to and a category for Christmas cards if you send them.
- Put a dollar amount by each one on the list and total them up.
That is the amount of money needed to save between now and then. It is best to be able to have all the monies saved by Thanksgiving to give you time to purchase the gifts and wrap them. If it is too difficult to save enough by Thanksgiving, it can be extended into December.
- Figure how many pay checks between now and Thanksgiving (or in December if you need).
- Divide the amount of money you need for Christmas by the number of pay checks figured above.
This is the amount that should be set aside for Christmas each pay check. Put this money in a safe place that is easiest for you where it will not be spent on other things. A few options for keeping the money saved include a savings account, cash, gift cards, or whatever works for you.
- Use the list made that includes all the people you need to buy for, to document the gifts that they would like.
Some people provide a wish list to their family.
If you don’t get a list from them, listen to things during the year that they like and jot them down as suggestions.
- It is time to shop – you have your list and better than that, you have money set aside already!
Some people may still be paying for last Christmas. As with many things in life, there are transition periods and it may take time to convert to saving ahead of time. Perhaps, you may only be able to save half or a portion of the money this year. That is still great as that is less that will need to go on the credit card this year. It may take a few Christmases to transition fully to paying everything with cash.
If finances are tight, consider some of the options below.
- Re-evaluate the list of people to buy for. We recently re-evaluated our Christmas list and when we checked with some of our family to see if we were still giving gifts this year, it was mutually decided to stop certain ones.
- Perhaps there is an opportunity to spend less per person too.
- Do it yourself projects would be fun way to make gifts and mean a lot to those receiving it. Depending on the project, it may be a great family activity to make together.
- Perhaps you have a talent you could give to others. If you bake cookies, you could make a “gift card” to offer to provide cookies for an occasion for someone on your gift list. If you do photography, perhaps you could offer them a photo session. They may have a family member graduating that needs senior pictures, a new baby, or a current family photograph. This will save them money and you may be able to coordinate better times that work for them instead of the tradition business hours.
- Do what works for your situation.
Remember that Christmas is not about the material items. Find things to do now such as making a list of people to buy for, saving money for the gifts and extras around the holidays, making a Christmas card list, and addressing the envelopes or creating the labels for the envelopes now. Make this Christmas less stressful and enjoy the true meaning of Christmas – the birth of Jesus.