The closer it gets to the holidays, the less time you have to save for additional expenses. At the same time, saving money for holiday extra’s isn’t always easy. This double whammy can easily take a huge toll on your budget in the few months leading to Christmas.
To keep up with these expenses, many people resort to using their credit cards. But that leads to credit card debt and high interest you might not get paid off before next year.
Fortunately, no matter what time of year it is, there are plenty of ways to save before the holidays hit. Here are few you could use to help you save.
1. Track Every Cent
Although this tactic could be a bit tedious, it is one way to know for sure just where your money is going. Of course, the idea is that knowing where your money is going will help you tighten your wallet.
You can do this easily by setting up a spreadsheet on your computer. But you could use a simple notebook to write everything down too. Or, put all of your receipts in an envelope and add them up every few days.
Some of these methods are probably a little more time intensive than others. However, as you add up what you are spending, you might see expenses you can lower or eliminate entirely. Then, bank this money in a separate account or put cash in an envelope for holiday spending.
2. Compete with a Friend
If you have a friend or two who don’t mind sharing what they spend you could compete with them. Having another person to help you stay accountable can keep you on track with your savings.
Share with each other once a week or every few days so you always know who’s on top. Then you can give each other encouragement to lower your spending.
Another thing you could do to make it fun is give little weekly prizes. For example, one incentive could be a trip to Starbucks for the person with the lowest expenses. Just make sure you say no to large or extravagant prizes so you don’t undo your savings.
3. Have “No Spend” Month
You could have a “no spend” month to save before the holidays hit. This is an additional way to help you pay for gifts, décor, and food.
Obviously you still have to pay your rent or mortgage, electricity, water, and other mandatory expenses. So, I’m not talking about those monthly costs. What I mean is, no buying anything else on top of that for a whole month.
If that seems to drastic, do it for a week and then take a week off. After that, do it again. Over a two month period you will have had your no spend month.
Get your family on board with your goals and have them help you have a “no spend” month. Talk to them about money and your ideas to lower spending. That way you can avoid debt and still enjoy the holiday.
4. Eat Only What You Already Have
Eating only what you already have on hand is one way to save money before the holidays are here. Try starting it on a Sunday and going the entire week without a trip to the store.
I actually have a friend who is doing this right now. She’s trying to use what she has and not cook anything not already in her cabinets until the holidays. You could try that too to save money for other things in your budget.
To stretch your money even more, go through your pantry and freezer. Use what you have on hand to create meals without buying anything more. If you must buy to cook, make it a purchase that helps you use what is already in your cupboards.
5. Only Use Cash
Aside from the bills that are deducted automatically, or must be sent through the mail, use cash. When you spend cash you tend to want to hang onto it rather than spending it. That means you’ll naturally spend less and save more.
You can also set it up in multiple envelopes for each category. As an example, you might have an envelope for food, one for personal items, and another for pets. Paying for what you need this way can help you tweak your overall budget and make changes that make sense.
Let’s say you budget $250 for food each month but never spend more than $200. That could mean your budget needs to be adjusted.
As stores begin to put out their holiday items it becomes a greater temptation to give in and spend. But if you need to save before the holidays hit, try some of these tips. Once Thanksgiving and Christmas roll around you’ll be prepared and won’t have to whip out your plastic.
Track All Your Accounts With Personal CapitalPersonal Capital lets you see all of your accounts in one convenient place. Sign up now for free.
What ways do you save before the holiday’s hit?