Christmas is one of the most expensive times of the year. As we come to the season again, you’re possibly looking at your bank balance. We used to be just like that. Each year would roll by and we’d wonder how we’d be able to put on a great day. When our first daughter came along, we wondered how we’d afford Christmas gifts.
It was on her second Christmas that we realized things had to change. That was when we started saving throughout the year. Even when we lived paycheck to paycheck, we made sure we put a little bit of money away each week for Christmas.
Couldn’t you just pay on a credit card?
I’ll admit that I do use a credit card. It helps with my cash flow and I earn a lot of points on it. Those points go towards clearing off the credit card. But each month, the bill is cleared off in full. There’s no interest. I’m just waiting for the paycheck.
So, couldn’t I just pay for Christmas on a credit card? That’s how it used to work, and then I ran up a lot of debt. I was clearing the credit card slowly each month until the next year, when I would repeat the cycle.
It was important to me to get out of that. So, I had to start saving. My weekly Christmas savings were small but they soon added up. I’d save $10 a week, between February and November, giving the family just short of $500 for Christmas gifts and food for dinner. Anything left over would go towards New Year’s celebrations.
Why miss out two months of the year? I needed the break during December and January because I was still paying off some of the credit cards. Plus, my husband’s work at the time would pay December’s paycheck a week early and that meant we had to stretch a little longer.
Now, we save up every single week of the year. We save $10 per week still, although at one point we tried $50 per month to see how that worked out. We find $10 per week easier to manage.
Christmas Planner: Holiday Party Organizer, Shopping Lists, Budgets, Christmas Cards, Meal Planner and Grocery List (Christmas Happy Planner) (Volume 5)
We can plan ahead better for Christmas
We know that the holidays are coming up. They happen every year, so it’s time to start planning for them. That’s one of the reasons we decided to start saving.
There tends to be a lot of pressure to buy X, Y, and Z. We no longer work with that. We know the amount that we have available to spend and we spread out he budget across the whole of the season. We also save up our reward points from our grocery shop that we have a loyalty card to help. We know the grocery store points will pay for food, so we have $500 or so to spend on Christmas gifts.
That isn’t a target to reach. We don’t always end up spending the full amount. The extra goes into the Christmas fund for the next year. Some years, we’ll decide to go away with the family for Christmas instead of staying at home, which is a treat to ourselves. With everything budgeted for, we don’t feel guilty about making our decisions.
Christmas savings tips
So, how can you do it? Think you can’t because you’re living paycheck to paycheck? We’ve been there. These are the steps that we took in the very beginning.
1. Look at rolling up each of the purchases you make. Something costs $5.99? Roll up to the full dollar, putting the cent in a savings account. Do that with each purchase and you’ll be surprised by the savings you make throughout the day.
2. Set up your account to automatically put $5 or $10 per week into your savings account. Start with just six months of the year if that’s easier
3. Get focused on the savings. It’s easy to say you don’t have the money this week. You may need to go without the coffee on the way to work, but it’s worth it for the peace of mind at Christmas.
4. Set your Christmas budget to your savings plan. Don’t overspend on gifts. You’ll be surprised what you can do on a budget.
5. Get everyone in the house on board with the new Christmas budget.
Saving throughout the year has certainly saved a lot of headache and stress. Now we know how much we have available at Christmas to do as we wish. Will you start saving next year?