Plan Ahead for a Cash Christmas…Starting Now!
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Christmas comes but once a year (as the song goes) but we know all year that it will be coming on December 25. It’s no surprise so why don’t we start planning now? You don’t have to start shopping for gifts now (unless you want to) but I believe it’s important to plan ahead for Christmas early.
I am a firm believer that it’s never too early to start planning ahead for Christmas – especially if you want to pay for your Christmas with cash! I am one of those who starts planning for our next Christmas on December 26th. Whether you do the same or start plan a couple months later, there are a couple things you can do NOW to help you with your plan for a cash Christmas.
The first thing to do this is the most important. Set a budget for your next Christmas. Here are some questions to help you get started thinking about your budget.
- For whom will you buy gifts?
- How much do you want to spend on each of the above?
- Do you want to send Christmas cards? How much will those – and postage – cost?
- Will you host any Christmas parties?
- Do you buy a real tree?
- What other expenses do you typically accumulate around Christmas time?
After thinking through as many of the costs associated with your Christmas a possible, now you know how much you need to save before Christmas.
Next, set your savings goal. Divide your budget total by however many months are remaining until Christmas. Hopefully, you are planning for next Christmas in January but this still works if you are starting to plan in June. If you want further motivation, divide your total by the weeks remaining until Christmas. This gives you a clear and specific savings goal.
Now it’s time to start saving! You can do this is many different ways.
Some people like to set up a Christmas savings account and transfer a certain amount from each paycheck into that savings account. It is a good way to ensure that you have cash set aside for Christmas so you won’t have to rely on credit.
If you use a cash system and shop year around, tuck some money away each month into an envelope so you will have it on hand whenever you see a great deal on something that someone on your list would love.
I like to start saving by earning free gift cards that are specifically used for Christmas. In fact, for the last couple years, we have been able to pay for our Christmas by using my online earnings. It’s so nice not to have to take extra money from our already tight budget.
As I just shared the other day, using Swagbucks is a great way to earn free gift cards. Over the past years, I have learned how to maximize your Swagbucks earnings in minimal time, earning you $10 to $25 (or more) in free gift cards every month. You can read that full article here with all the specifics on Swagbucks. I also search with Bing to earn more free gift cards.
Here are 4 ways that I earn free gift cards in minutes a day, if this is something that you want to do, too.
Answering surveys is another way to earn and save money for Christmas. I go through months when I work diligently on surveys and other months when I let them slide. One of my favorite survey companies is Opinion Outpost since they allow you to cash out at only $5 for Amazon gift cards or $10 for Paypal.
Along similar lines, you can answer surveys and / or click on emails to earn free gift cards. I have used MyPoints for years. It’s simple and just one more way to earn free gift cards. Some friends I know prefer Inbox Dollars because you can click on emails, answer surveys and do quite a few other things to earn free gift cards. Plus, you get a $5 bonus when you sign up and free money is always nice!
Another idea is to work on cleaning out your house and sell things you no longer need or use on Craigslist. Make it a goal that whatever you earn from selling this year will go straight to your Christmas fund.
Perhaps you are going to fund your Christmas by doing a combination of the above. That is great! Figure out what works for you and your budget and do it! The important thing here is to start planning and saving for Christmas sooner rather than later.
The encouragement of this post is simple. Start planning now! We can all have different plans to celebrate a cash Christmas and that’s okay. Do what works for you and your family….and start now!
If you have any tips for celebrating a cash Christmas, please leave them in the comments! I always love to hear how others budget for their holiday celebrations.
I would also suggest to start looking for Christmas cards, wrapping paper and even gifts NOW at thrift stores and garage sales! I was able to get 100 brand new (beautiful) Christmas cards for under $3 at the thrift stores this past year. I was trying to use up the wrapping paper I already had on hand or I would have bought some of that as well (I regularly see rolls of wrapping paper for as little as 25-50 cents!).
That’s a great idea, Cheyanne! I always shop the after Christmas sales as I plan ahead for Christmas, but haven’t looked at thrift stores much – specifically for Christmas things! I will have to keep my eyes open next time I’m in one. Garage sales, too.
We have been putting money away for Christmas every month for years. We talked with my husband extended family and decided to quite doing gifts for everyone. Well they haven’t quite giving us gifts. I hadn’t been to that family gathering for the last two years. I was pretty embarrassed when we showed up with a stack of cards with photos of the kids and our name drawing gifts and that was it. We got so much stuff from everyone. So I will take it as a life lesson and move on. I guess change is hard for people. I will try really hard to buy things throughout the year. Clearance stuff is great. My dad loves fancy long sleeve shirts from Cabelas. I will try to get there in the next couple of months and put it away for next year.
Lots of good tips here. Have a good weekend.
Oh dear. Extended family gift giving can be tricky. I’m glad you are able to buy things throughout the year. I find it to be a great source of savings, and I’m happy to hold onto those items until Christmas when I find good deals. Thanks for sharing how you work towards a cash Christmas, Jackie!