Back in June, I wrote a little article about saving money for Christmas. I suggested that 6 months in advance, you start setting aside a few bucks every paycheque towards Christmas. Did you? I sure did, and I'm terribly glad that I did. Right about this time every other year, I start to stress. I have a pretty tight budget, so finding a few extra hundred dollars to pay for Christmas presents for my family and friends is hard, not to mention increased grocery budgets, travel costs, and decoration expenses! This year, however, I have absolutely no financial stress when it comes to Christmas, because I have a nice little online bank account with more than enough money for all the gifts that my wife and I have to buy this year. It's not quite big enough to take care of everything, but it is more than I've ever had before.
So did you start saving for Christmas? If not, then set a reminder for yourself for February. In February, start pulling aside 20-50 dollars per paycheck. If you put $50/paycheque into its own separate account, then by Christmas of 2012 you'll have over a grand – just for Christmas! As for this Christmas, here's a few things you can do to get financially ready for Christmas.
Limit Your Plans
Everyone is busy around the Christmas season. There's work parties, other work parties, dinner with friends, Christmas day with family, New Years parties, and everything in between. It's a crazy season, and every thing you attend will cost you more time and money. If you're already starting to stress about the holiday season, cut out what you can. Will it really matter if you don't go to your work party? Do you have to have multiple gatherings with your friends? Limit yourself to a few holiday functions.
Christmas is a great time to get rid of some unnecessary things around the house – especially the bigger ticket items. A lot of people are scouring the internet for good deals for Christmas presents, so putting up your goods for sale at this time of year can net you a nice little profit. I would focus especially on seasonal items like winter sports gear or exercise equipment like treadmills. Consider that there will be a lot of new years resolutions to try new things, like tennis, golfing, or sewing. It's an already busy time of year, so focus on one or two higher priced items rather than spending your time selling a lot of little things.
The sooner you can start knocking Christmas gifts off your list, the better. At this point, sales will have started, but you're not so far away from Christmas that you won't be able to return something if you find a better deal in December. Not to mention, the longer you can keep your eye on an item, the more likely you'll get it at a good price. Start shopping, and ensure that you check out all your options before you purchase. You have a few weeks, use them to do some comparison shopping before you purchase.
Are you ready for Christmas?