Get the Jump on Holiday Savings

Starting Now Will Help Later

Holiday-savings-headFor many retailers, the holiday season starts earlier and earlier. But for many shoppers, the season doesn’t start until mid-December—meaning quite a few will wind up with a pile of debt afterwards.

While Halloween is still fresh in our minds, now is actually a great time to start planning and saving for the holiday shopping season. Don’t believe me? Here are a few examples of why this is the case.

Save weekly

The military gets paid the 1st and 15th of every month, which means you’ll have three full paychecks by Dec. 25. If your spouse has a job and gets paid twice a month as well, that’s a total of six paychecks between now and then. So if you were to set aside just $50 a paycheck, that’s a quick $300 you’ll have on hand and won’t need to put on a credit card.

Save on spending

There are many ways you can reduce your spending without giving up everything you love. For example, one good way is to bring your lunch instead of eating out. This small, easy-to-do change can save you $40 a week, or a total of $240 in just six weeks—and that’s just for one person. If your spouse does the same, that’s even more savings. While not exactly Bill Gates money, that’s less you’ll need to worry about covering.

Save on store cards

Many stores have their own credit cards and will even give you a percentage off your purchases for applying. Just keep a couple of things in mind for when the cashier at your favorite retailer asks you if you want one:

  1. Applying for new credit might count against your credit score, if only by a bit. Still, if your credit is on the fence between “okay” and “not very good,” it might be best if you don’t apply for a new card and pay cash instead. Being denied or, worse yet, getting in over your head just isn’t worth it.
  2. If your credit is solid, you can take advantage of such deals—but only if you can pay the amount in full if possible, and that includes before you even get the bill. This might actually increase your credit score because it will increase the ratio of how much credit you have available versus how much of that credit you use. (The more available + less used = better.)

Save together

Have a kid who is clamoring for the latest gaming console? Got a brother begging for a new computer? Maybe your mom is deserving of a nice vacation? Get a group together to help offset larger purchases and start saving now. Doing so can make it a lot easier on everyone, both financially and in terms of stress. Plus, it can help you check off several items from your shopping list.

So while you’ve still got a pile of leftover Halloween candy and a turkey dinner to deal with before the December holiday season starts, you can start saving for it now—odds are you will be glad you did later.

Mark Dye

About the author: Mark Dye

Mark Dye has been writing articles, recording podcasts, and putting together books on personal finance for nearly a decade. His work has been recognized by the American Bankers Association and the Institute for Financial Literacy, and received an 2011 APEX Grand Award for Writing. Follow Mark on Google+.

Contact: Mark Dye


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