Although Christmas comes at the same time every single year, most Americans find themselves scrambling financially during the Holiday season. Many people are unsure of how to cover the costs of gifts, travel, and décor as they host family and friends.
The crazy thing is that in 2019, on average, people went $1,357 into holiday debt when 57% of them didn’t even plan on it! Whether we want to believe it or not, holiday spending can make or break our financial progress. To combat the financial burden of the holidays, here are 3 easy tips on how to save for Christmas every year.
1. Set a Budget for Gifts!
Most of us either set the budget too high for Christmas spending or do not set a holiday budget at all. The reality is that Christmas has become consumer-centric and we often forget the real reason why we celebrate. Christmas generosity can point to Jesus or it can reveal our sinful hearts. Christmas is not about Santa, Black Friday deals, or outshining others, it’s about Jesus.
We must take an honest look at who we want to buy or make gifts for and set a price point not to pass. My method is to set a gift budget per person. For each person, I usually buy a gift or two that totals $5-$10 less than the budgeted price to cover tax and give me margin for gift-wrap, shipping, etc.
Whatever your method, it’s better to land under budget than to go over budget and end up where most American’s do—paying off Christmas debt for the rest of the new year.
2. Save monthly all year long!
I get weird looks from people when I tell them that I start saving for Christmas starting January 1st. However, setting up a sinking fund is the easiest way to make sure you have money for the holidays. A sinking fund is where you set aside a recurring amount of money for a future, calculated expense.
For me, I have a Christmas sinking fund built into my budget, and I don’t touch it unless it’s for Holiday purposes. Do you want to know something great about this fund? You don’t have to wait until Christmas to buy Christmas gifts! If you see something you want to gift somebody for Christmas in April, it doesn’t matter! Just buy it and wait until the holidays to give it to them. Since it’s budgeted, you save the stress of having to buy gifts for everyone at the same time.
However, if you choose to wait until the holidays to spend your sinking fund, it will add up to a nice sum of cash! Just think, saving $100 a month will ensure you have $1200 for Christmas travel, gifts, and food. Cha-ching!
3. Save extra checks!
You might be asking yourself, extra checks? Never heard of them. I felt the same way until I learned about this budgeting hack. If you have a job that pays weekly or bi-weekly you can implement this. Change your budget structure so that your budget begins on the 1st of each month and ends on the last day of the month.
The reason for this is simple. If you get paid weekly, you’ll find 4 checks a year that go beyond what you budgeted which is essentially a bonus for you! If you get paid bi-weekly, the same thing happens to you twice a year! If your budget allows for this, you’re able to save without even thinking about it! Depending on the size of those checks, you could either use all or some of them to cover holiday expenses.
Debt is never fun and during the holiday season, it’s even worse. No one wants to enjoy Christmas, just to come home to a bad aftertaste from all the holiday bills with inflated interest rates. Try any of these tips during this Christmas or future holiday seasons and watch how much stress is alleviated! Instead of being held back by our debt, let us enjoy what this season is really about: The One who rescued us—Jesus.
“A sensible man watches for problems ahead and prepares to meet them. The simpleton never looks and suffers the consequences.” – Proverbs 27:12