With school already starting, believe it or not, Thanksgiving is three months out and the holiday shopping season isn’t far behind. If you’re hoping to take advantage of Black Friday deals, it's time to plan and make sure you have the money saved up in time to pay for those great deals.
The average American spends just under $1,000 on Christmas gifts.1 If you haven't begun saving for the holidays yet, that equates to $333 each month stashed aside if you want to start your shopping around Thanksgiving. Even though this may sound like a lot, you can begin by setting smaller goals. Putting in the work now will give you a less-stressful holiday season.
Sticking to a budget is much easier when you have a plan in place. With financial aggregating tools such as Money Management, you can view all your accounts (from any financial institution or brokerage) in one place. Money Management automatically looks at your spending and creates a budget based on your habits. Then, you can adjust the categories appropriately to ensure you’re saving more every month.
Related post: 5 Simple Steps to Creating Your Budget
Adjust Your Spending
Setting your budget is the easy part; adjusting your spending to ensure you stay within budget is harder and the most important piece to reaching your goals before the holidays. Find places where you can trim a little and stick to it. Consider brewing coffee at home versus buying a coffee every day – that could easily save you about $50 per month.
Stop Wasting Money on Fees
Some banks may charge you $10 to $12 a month just to keep your checking account. If you’re paying fees for a similar amount, you can give yourself an instant bonus by switching to a financial institution and checking account with no monthly fee. In just three months, you could save upwards of $36 dollars. This certainly won’t make you rich, but it gives you a head start on saving and the savings will add up year-round!
Review Current Bills
Cable, insurance, and cell phone bills can add up. Spend some time analyzing whether you need some of these services such as cable. Forgoing cable for a few months can help you reach your goal even faster. For some of the services you do need to have, consider reaching out to your provider to see if there is a better plan or rate you can take advantage of to save some money. Often times, you can negotiate bills down and, in the end,, it can’t hurt to ask!
Create a Separate Savings Account
Out of sight, out of mind can be true for your money too. If having extra savings in your checking or ordinary savings account is tempting, consider opening a special account just to accrue funds for the holiday season. By setting up automatic transfers or direct deposit into the account, you can save money for the holidays without lifting a finger.
Start Shopping Now
If you take advantage of sales throughout the year, it can reduce your overall spending for the holidays and relieve the pressure of spending $1,000 in one month. Buying a gift on sale now is even more helpful to your budget than saving money to buy something full price in December.
Ease the stress and pressure of the holidays by planning ahead. Making these small changes in your habits today will help get a jump on your holidays spending as well as set you on a better path for your finances overall.