If you’re like most people, there’s not much more terrifying than that countdown to Christmas: only 120, 75, 15 days until Christmas. Not only does it trigger the anxiety to both start and finish shopping, it also usually comes with a mild panic about how to fund all those purchases.
No matter when you start saving, it always seems like maybe you should’ve started a little sooner. But the fact is, it’s never too late to get started.
Start small, but start.
If you’re just getting started for this Christmas, start small, maybe as little as $25 a week. In the eight to ten weeks lead to the holidays, you can save as much as $250. And while that might not fund all of your yuletide plans, it’s a great start. And it gives you the option to pay cash for some or all your holiday expenses.
Consider the interest you save, as well as the interest you earn.
Starting small, and keeping your funds liquid and accessible for holiday shopping, will likely mean that you’ll earn a relatively low interest earnings on your savings. And you may not be able to take advantage of the higher rates available on less liquid accounts, like a CD. But before you dismiss those earnings, consider this: if you use your credit cards rather than paying cash to buy gifts, you’ll be spending more than just the cost of the gifts. You’ll also have interest charges and monthly fees added to it.
Start earlier next year.
It’s an old-fashioned concept, but the idea of a Christmas-club type of account still makes sense. Starting in January, determine your holiday budget for the coming year. Once you decide on a dollar amount, divide it by the number of months (or weeks) remaining until Christmas, and start saving.
One last thought: there’s no rule saying you have to spend beyond your means at Christmas. There are plenty of other ways to show your love and appreciation to others at the holidays beyond an expensive gift. Home-baked goodies, an outing together, or handmade crafts are all ways you can invest a little more time -- and a little less money -- to make it through the holidays with your financial health intact