Yes, it’s still ridiculously hot outside and school hasn’t even started yet, but Christmas is coming. Thanksgiving is roughly four months away, which means if you want to pay cash for those Black Friday bargains instead of charging up your credit card balance, you need a game plan.
The average American spends $1,000 on Christmas gifts. That means if you haven’t started saving yet, you will need to put away $250 per month to make that goal. It might sound like a lot, but there are some tricks that can help you gift yourself a debt-free holiday while making your family’s dreams come true.
Adjust your spending. Sure, this one is obvious, but without a plan it’s not going to happen. Don’t just tell yourself you’ll spend less. Find places where you can trim a little and stick to it. Buy whole foods instead of pre-cut veggies or processed foods. That could save you $50 or more per month from your grocery bill. (Besides, have you read about all the salmonella and listeria recalls, lately? Ew.) Also, take your friends and co-workers up on their offers of free zucchini and cucumbers from their garden. You could also trim $25 from your entertainment budget and $25 from clothes. Put back $25 worth of stuff back on the shelf during one Target run, and you’ve just saved $125 per month.
Increase your income. Summer is ripe with ways to make a few extra bucks. Have a garage sale. Start a pet-sitting or houseplant/garden watering service for families on summer vacation. Finally open that Etsy storefront you’ve always talked about.
Start your Christmas shopping now. If you take advantage of bargains throughout the year, you won’t be pressured into spending $1,000 all in one month. Buying a gift on sale now is even more helpful to your budget than saving money to buy something full price in December.