Start Saving Now for the Holidays
Simple tactics to avoid the debt trap.
Does the holiday season seem to creep up on you each year? It can be very stressful when December arrives and you realize you haven’t saved a dime for your growing gift-giving list. Why not consider creating a savings strategy early for this year’s holiday season? Planning ahead can help you remain free of credit card debt and help you to enjoy a stress-free holiday.
Simple tactics to find and save money for the holidays:
- Sell your stuff: Chances are you may have many items in your home just collecting dust. Check your attic or basement and make some cash by selling books, old clothes or antiques. Billeater.com recommends selling your junk on Craigslist or eBay. Set aside any money you make in a holiday savings fund or bank account. You might be surprised at how much dormant cash is hiding in your home.
- Stash your coins: Remember that change can or piggy bank sitting on your bedroom shelf? You just might have enough coins in there to buy several gifts or stocking stuffers. Billeater.com suggests that every time you purchase lunch, a latte or a newspaper, you collect the change and save it in a jar. Before holiday time, roll the coins and use the money to buy presents for loved ones.
- Adjust your cable bill: ABCNews.com suggests ditching costly premium cable television in favor of basic cable. In just two months, you could save more than $150, depending on where you live.
- Dine at home: Forgoing fancy restaurants and dining at home more frequently each month will keep some cash in your pocket. And, before going grocery shopping, raid your cabinets, fridge and freezer and cook what you have to save a bit more.
- Change your withholding tax: You may likely receive a refund check during tax season. According to ABCNews.com, the average refund in 2009 was $3,000. It suggests adjusting the withholding allowance on your Form W-4 for several months before the holidays, so you’ll receive bigger paychecks. Then stash away the extra take-home pay. Remember, of course, that you’ll get a smaller tax refund the following spring.
- Christmas Club: The Better Business Bureau suggests opening up a Christmas club or holiday club account at your financial institution to help save for the holiday season. Interest rates are likely to be low, but the goal is to put your deposits into an account designated for gift buying only. Once opened, deposit money each week or month. Consider automating your deductions from your bank account or paycheck, so that you can be sure to achieve your holiday savings goals. A minimum amount might be required to open the account, or you might need to deposit a minimum amount each month. Ask if there is a penalty for early withdrawal.
These are a few painless ways to help prevent post-holiday financial blues. Imagine how relieved and less stressed you’ll feel not having a trail of extra debt following you after the fun and festivities of the season wind down. Make holiday savings a priority, and discuss savings options with your financial institution.