Guest blog by Arvest Bank
Have a Holly, Jolly … July?! Why Your Holiday Savings Should Start Now
Well, once again we blinked and it is somehow July! Which means that the holiday hustle and bustle of December is just five short months away! While the hot Arkansas temperature might not have you singing Christmas carols anytime soon, your budget will appreciate a little extra holiday planning this year. Come November and December, you be might be glad you started saving now when you start making that gift list.
If there’s one thing that brings stress to the holidays, it’s the debt you incur. Fortunately, there is time to plan – and save – and get through the holiday season debt-free. You first need a plan for saving and for spending – and it’s important that you stick to both.
A basic savings account that is separate from the account you use for everyday expenses can be a great, simple way to save for holiday spending. You can even set up automatic drafts from each paycheck so you don’t have to think about making the deposit yourself every month. Then, the account can be merged into your main checking closer to the holidays. It’s a way for YOU to protect YOU from spending – and it teaches good saving habits.
So, how much exactly will you need to save? Now is the time to decide how much you plan to spend on each person, even if you don’t know what gift you will give, so you can begin saving the amount you need to put back every month. Arvest.com/calculators is a great resource with calculators to help you evaluate many different financial decisions and it includes a “How Much Should I Save?” calculator.
A few other tips to stay on track once you start your holiday shopping:
- If you shop early in the holiday season, be sure to keep track of everything you purchase and how much you spent. Otherwise, your gift-giving may get out of balance and you could overspend.
- If you’re not sure what to get someone, consider giving a gift card. This will help you avoid impulse purchases or spending $5 to $10 more than you had budgeted, simply because you don’t know what to buy.
- For some, the goal of saving cash is to avoid overspending on credit cards during the holidays, BUT – many credit cards offer some type of rewards program. You might consider saving cash, charging only what you budgeted for, earning those rewards, and then using your holiday savings to pay off the balance – so you don’t incur more debt during the holidays.
This may sound silly, but you’d be surprised at how much money you will have saved at the end of the year if you simply stockpile all of your spare change in a piggy bank or jar. We’re talking about a few hundred dollars here, and that’s a healthy holiday savings. Add that to your monthly saving and you’re in great shape!
The key with these savings strategies is to begin early enough in the year to see the savings account grow. Ideally, it’s a good idea to save money all year long, but there are still five months until Christmas, so there’s time to save a good amount if you start now!