Every year, when Christmas comes and goes, we’re left looking at our bank account and thinking, “Next year I need to find a way to do Christmas for cheaper.” In fact, it’s a large part of why we set New Year’s resolutions to be more money-smart. While you’re setting next year’s goals, I have some tips about preparing to save for next Christmas. The biggest tip is to start now! To be honest, it’s the only way to make next Christmas less stressful, and more reasonably priced.
Take Advantage of Post-Christmas Sales
Alright, you think that Black Friday is a good time to shop for deals? I’m a firm believer that you’ll get a better experience out of post-Christmas shopping. For one thing, you don’t have the same crowds at all. For another, you have plenty of leisure time right after Christmas to shop on your schedule, rather than there being one day’s mad rush. But most of all, this really is more of a clearance time for many stores. Black Friday is a big deal that they’ll capitalize on as much as they can, but they know that the holiday shopping will continue all through December, and so the general markdowns (on things besides the doorbusters) won’t be quite as significant as they are AFTER Christmas, when stores really need to clean out their stock.
While you’re shopping the post-Christmas sales, focus on those things with the biggest markdowns: Christmas stuff. Lights, decorations, cozy flannel pajamas, and wrapping paper can be purchased for pennies on the dollar. You can buy those items now, and then tuck them away with your Christmas boxes, to be delightfully removed from packaging when it’s time to enjoy Christmas decor and paraphernalia again
There will always be some last-minute things to gather up before Christmas, including additions to your gifting list, and random impulse buys that aren’t on the market until December. However, if you get the bulk of your Christmas shopping done before summer even hits, then you’ll be sitting pretty come December. You can opt out of the Black Friday madness, and actually enjoy the holiday season, with half of the stresses lifted off your shoulders.
There are some significant monetary benefits to getting early presents, too. For one thing, you can get those specialized items online without having to pay extra for quick shipping; take as long as you want! You can also watch for deals and make sure that you get it at the best possible price that year.
One more special element of starting Christmas-gift-planning early: if you’re thinking of cutting back on costs by doing some homemade Christmas gifts (a great way to make an extra-special holiday) then you want to start early in order to have time to finish things before for the holidays. Read more here about saving on gifting.
Are you looking to cut back significantly on your holiday spending next year? Maybe you want to be a little less materialistic next year. Well, it’s probably time, then, to look into alternatives to presents. Set a specific budget on how much you’ll spend per person on gifts and start making plans and setting expectations NOW to do other things over the holidays instead. For example, you might plan ahead of time to do a family vacation or trip instead of (note, INSTEAD of, not in addition to) presents. In that case, the earlier you plan it, the better! You might also look into service opportunities for the whole family. Think about getting tickets to events and experiences as gifts. Of course, these are best purchased early on.
That being said, you’ll definitely want to communicate this change to your family if that’s what you’re planning on. You don’t want children disappointed because they feel that Christmas was downgraded. Instead, emphasize the exciting things that you can look forward to, and let them know that Christmas has to be a little more modest early on. Read here for more ideas on saving during the holidays, including things that you can cut back on and ways to spread the financial worries into bite-sized chunks.
Save a Christmas Fund
Even if you’re not cutting back much on Christmas, you can make the Christmas costs and expenses less stressful by saving up money for them now. There are many ways to put aside small amounts of money now that will add up into a substantial fund by the time Christmas comes. You might start depositing change from daily purchases into an actual savings jar. You might cut back on certain treats at the grocery store and instead putting that money towards $10 a week of savings. This article has more ideas for saving up for larger expenses.