Can you believe that there are only 8 weeks left until Christmas this year???? Even though Christmas comes on the same exact day every single year, it has a tendency to creep upon us. If you’ve been hanging around my blog for a while you know that I’m a huge fan of Sinking Funds. And one of the first Sinking Funds we created was a Christmas one. Our Christmas Fund helps us pay in cash for Christmas every single year. We contribute to this account all year long which takes the stress out of trying to fund Christmas come Halloween time.
But maybe you’re new here or new to money management and the thought of Christmas is causing you to panic. Don’t worry, there’s still time to save for Christmas. And remember that Christmas isn’t about a mountain of gifts piled as high as the tree itself. Christmas is about so much more. If you need help remembering that, pull up your favorite Christmas memory from your childhood. Chances are, it has very little to do with how many gifts you received on Christmas morning.
1.Set Up a Christmas Sinking Fund
Even though you may not have as much time this year to save up for the Christmas you want you should still set up your sinking fund. Setting up your Christmas Sinking Fund now will ensure that you not only don’t have to do it after the New Year, but you’ll ensure you don’t forget about this important account. Our Christmas Sinking Fund is a separate checking account (at an online bank to avoid fees) that we contribute money to all year long. When it comes time to do some Christmas shopping, travel, charity donations, etc. we just pull out that debit card.
2.Do a Spending Review
When’s the last time you took an honest look at where your money is going? If you haven’t done a spending review in a while, right now is a great time to do it! This can free up so much money in your household budget. And not just for paying for Christmas but for paying off debt or even beefing up that Emergency Fund!
Are there any subscriptions that need to be canceled? Think about Audible, Cable/Satelite, Spotify, Kindle Unlimited, gym membership, Fabletics, etc. Think about it. $14.95 a month for Audible is $179.40 a year. Now maybe you use Audible enough to justify the cost and that $179.40 is way less than what you would normally spend on books in a year. Or maybe you’re not using Audible enough anymore to justify the cost.
Here’s the thing. What do you want more – to pay for Christmas with cash to avoid starting next year deeper in debt or do you want to continue paying for these services? No wrong answer. Just the answer that works best for your family. No one can tell you how you should or should not be spending money. But take an honest look at how and where you’re spending your money to make sure it makes sense for your family’s overall financial health.
3.Sell Stuff You Don’t Need or Want
Nothing gives your budget a boost like going out and turning your stuff into cash. I mean, at one point all that stuff was money, right? Anyway, if you need to cash to pay for Christmas this year, gather up a bunch of stuff you don’t need or want anymore and sell it! We love using the Marketplace on Facebook to sell our stuff but there are tons of places online to sell used stuff. You can even consign some of your kids’ clothing for extra cash!
4.Use Cashback Apps
Okay, so you’re not going to become a millionaire using these apps but they can help you pay for Christmas. In fact, we paid for Christmas one year entirely from Swagbucks I had earned by doing surveys! Using sites like Swagbucks for surveys can be a great way to earn points towards gift cards for Christmas shopping. There are also cashback sites like Rakuten where you earn actual cashback on your online purchases! You can even scan in your receipts to apps like Fetch to earn cashback! There are numerous options out there. Use the ones that fit you best and allow them to help you stretch your Christmas spending this year!
5.Downgrade Where You Can
You may not like this one. But if you’re paying a ton of money every month for your cell phone plan it may be time to reconsider. Now granted, you may need unlimited data but if you’re like me and you’re connected to WiFi 80-90% of the day, then you can probably downgrade. I switched to Republic Wireless five years ago and I’ve never looked back! My phone bill is less than $25 a month and I can do everything that I was able to do back when I was on a major carrier. Another place to look is your utility or insurance providers. When is the last time you got new quotes?
It had been over four years since I had looked at natural gas rates. Last year I discovered that not only were we paying nearly $2 per therm but that another natural gas company in our area was offering $0.32 a therm! If it’s been a while since you paid attention to what your utility or insurances are costing you, spend some time today gathering quotes. You could add some serious extra money to your budget!
What to Include In Your Christmas Budget
When we first started trying to actually budget for Christmas, I could never seem to get the amount right. But that was because I was only including the presents. Travel wasn’t included nor the extra cost of the food. I even forgot to include the Christmas cards and wrapping paper! I wasn’t including the charitable donations or the fun activities that cost money. No wonder we were struggling those first few tries at a Christmas budget! If you want a reasonable picture of how much you should budget for Christmas, go back into November and December of last year.
Look at how much you spent on all the Christmas spending last year. Is that a reasonable amount to spend this year? Do you have the cash set aside for that? If not, is it feasible to make it happen before Christmas this year? Or do you maybe need to lower the budget this year and cut a few things out?
If you’ve never created a budget before (or you’ve struggled to stick to one), head here to watch a tutorial on setting up a budget.
By the way, there is nothing wrong or bad with having to forego some traditions if they aren’t in the budget this year. It’s okay. Pick the things that really matter and do that. Cut out everything else. It’s also okay to not buy as many gifts this year. My kids only get 3-4 presents each. That’s it. Some of our friends think we’re crazy but our kids don’t need a Christmas tree piled with gifts. What they do need is the love of their parents and siblings on Christmas morning as we celebrate the real reason for the season. Oh and yes, Christmas is an actual season, and the real 12 days of Christmas start on Christmas Day.
Anyway, there you go! A few quick ways to help shape up your money before Christmas this year. But remember the key to making Christmas work for your budget is to plan all year! Set up that Christmas Sinking Fund today. And start saving money towards Christmas next year on New Year’s Day!
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