Saving for Christmas

I was shocked when I saw Christmas décor and accouterments for sale in early September. From my perspective, it was still summer, and how dare you pull us all the way to December when I hadn’t even considered the other fall holidays?

Saving money for Christmas spending and gift buying -- two budget ideas

So I don’t want to be one of those people. I’m not nearly ready for Christmas trees, tinsel, and holly. However, it’s around this time of year that I start getting my budget ready for the inevitable Christmas spending.

I absolutely love the winter holidays, and I see them as a great time to appreciate loved ones, celebrate the good in the world, and go wild with decorating. But all this jolly celebrating comes at a very real price tag. I’m not one to run up new debt carrying balances on credit cards, so I’ve got to have the cash ready to buy presents, a fresh cut tree, new wrapping supplies, and other decorations. Even DIY presents require materials!

Budgeting for Christmas expenses - two different ways

My method
I use my monthly budget as a guide throughout the entire year, so I make sure to fit all of my spending into that, including holiday expenses. Personally, I start re-arranging my funds in September, squirreling money away each month. There are a few categories in my budget, like clothing and discretionary spending, that take the hit to provide more money for Christmas. I just make sure to live a little bit more frugally throughout the fall to account for the smaller budget categories. For September things were a little tight, so I only set aside $50. In October I’m hoping to do at least $100. By the time December comes along, I’ll have a few hundred dollars already earmarked for Christmas spending.

George’s method
George manages his own budget a little bit differently than I do. Every month of the year, he sets aside a small portion of his budget towards gifts. It’s primarily used during Christmastime, so when December comes he has a whole pot of funds to draw from. His online bank (Capital One 360) allows you to have many sub-accounts, so the money is in a separate, labeled, account. If you have good will power, this seems like an even better way to save for the holidays, since you don’t feel the burn of money being taken away in the fall. You’re already accustomed to setting it aside for a future goal.

By being proactive with my saving now I feel a lot better later when I see all my spending in late November and December. It allows me to just let go and enjoy the season without worrying about going broke.
So I guess this is my not-so-subtle reminder that while Christmas isn’t here yet, it is on the horizon.

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