Simple Ways to Start Saving for a Debt-Free Christmas

Christmas may be a few months away, but it’s never too early to plan for the most expensive time of year. According to a National Retail Federation survey, Americans spent an estimated average of $967 on the holidays in 2017. It is tempting to splurge on the splendor of the season, but if you want to avoid post-Christmas debt, stick to these basic tips.

Start With a Budget

Before you determine what gifts to get or how to decorate your home, come up with a number. For an idea of how much you can spend, look at last year’s totals and adjust for your current financial situation. Can you afford as much? More? Less? It is important to start with a realistic idea of what is within your reach. Make sure you are not exceeding your flexible income. If necessary, cut corners on your regular budget – particularly for luxury items – to make sure you can hit your Christmas goal.

Create a Christmas Fund

If you are confident in your self-control, start with a self-managed fund at home. Not sure you can resist the temptation to dip into those cash reserves? Go to your bank and establish a holiday savings account. You can set up direct deposit or automatic transfer to build up your nest egg without even thinking about it. If you receive any extra money toward the end of the year (like a bonus), consider putting at least part of that into your account.

Be an Intentional Shopper

It can be fun to wander stores or surf online, throwing anything and everything in your cart, but that is also a recipe for overspending. To counteract this and stay within your means, write a shopping list – and stick to it. For things like décor and wrapping, take inventory of what you already have, so you don’t wind up with an attic full of unused tissue paper and gift bags. When it comes to picking presents, keep a running list of things your loved ones are interested in. Before you finalize it, compare prices on the items and add only the things that won’t break the bank.

Find Ways to Earn Extra Money

If you have time, getting a seasonal job can be a holiday lifesaver. Many companies – especially in retail – need additional help as the Christmas season grows nearer. Take advantage of this need and provide yourself with a secondary source of income. If you cannot commit to a part-time position, consider freelance work. Think of your particular skills – from bookkeeping to photography – and put them to money-making use.

Citizens National Bank can help — we offer a Christmas Club savings account. Click here to learn more.