To Jump-Start Your Holiday Savings Now

Why? Because they are still a few months away, and you can start preparing for them now! Too many people wait until December to buy gifts. With no money saved, they turn to credit cards in a panic and pay for the holidays until April. Not the best approach.

It’s much easier to get ready for the yuletide season little by little. You just need to know where to start. Here are ve ways you can get a jump on the holidays—now!

1. Save a Monthly Amount
Determine the total you want to spend on gifts and divide it by three (the number of months left). For example, if your budget is $900, then save $300 a month for three months. Not only do you enter December with most of your money ready, but you also have a few weeks to enjoy shopping. Of course, if you start in January (because you will be more planful for 2017) you could divide your total bud- get by 10 or 11 and have the pleasure of sipping hot chocolate and wrapping the gifts you purchased year ’round while others are just heading into the holiday foray next December!

2. Look for Deals Now
Wouldn’t it be awesome if you see a bargain this month and you can just snatch it up? That’s what happens when you keep an eye out for possible gifts year ’round—you can save some serious cash. For instance, in early fall laptops, camping gear, luggage, towels, and more are on sale. And you can prepare for 2017 with the After-Christmas and Pre-Inventory sales in January, with more great deals thrown in.

3. Use Your “Under Budget” Cash
When you come in under budget on monthly expenses like groceries or clothing, take the difference and stash it away in your holiday fund. That $20 here or $50 there adds up in a flash, and it gives you one more reason to look for bargains in your budget.

4. Have a DIY Holiday
Hop onto Pinterest or Instagram to get some ideas for crafts that you can give as gifts. Searching for them now gives you plenty of time to buy the materials and put the effort into creating a craft that has just the right touch for the recipient. Even better, you have time to start over in case your first attempt looks more like a Halloween scare than a holiday gift.

5. Redirect Your Social Fund
Summer is the season for barbecues, swim parties, vacations, and weekend getaways. With school back in session, your entertainment budget is probably reduced. You know your kids will be busy with school and homework during the week, so save some money for fun on the weekends, but redirect the rest of your budget to saving for the holidays.

Saving and searching for gifts early make holiday preparations a lot easier to enjoy. Planning ahead also keeps your stress level down. Wouldn’t you rather focus on holiday traditions and time with your family than on scurrying around with hordes of shoppers?

Plan for the holidays in advance. It will save you money in the long run because you won’t be in the panicked impulsive mode in a crowded store. Keep a list year ’round of the gifts you have already bought on sale and for whom…being planful keeps your stress—as well as your pocketbook—in balance!

Bonnie Black is the Director for Employees Assistance Services, where she presents workshops and seminars to the more than 120 organizations which provide this benefit to their employees. In her role as an Intrinsic Coach her goal is to bring out the best in individuals and organizations.