Start Early, Save Often
October 22, 2015 by Mark Dye
It’s not even Halloween, and yet countless stores have their holiday decorations and deals are already on the shelves. While many people find this a tad absurd—and might even feel a bit sad for Thanksgiving, which is like the third wheel of autumn holidays—the truth is that getting some of your holiday shopping and gifts together now can save you both time and stress down the road.
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.
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.
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, which 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 for the holidays.
Save it all
There are a number of gifts you can give that cost almost nothing but your time.
- Encouragement jar—Inspire friends, coworkers and those you just plain love on scraps of paper. “Be Brilliant!” “Enjoy the little things…” “I dare you to keep going,” and, “You are always stronger than you think you are,” can be enough to boost anyone, any day.
- Word cloud—Celebrate and remind someone how amazing they are by choosing words that fit their personality. Adjectives, nouns, verbs…there’s no limit to what you choose to use. Then, head to Wordle.net and create an image that honors them. You can even have it framed for very little cost.
- Get creative—With some found objects (in nature, recycling and otherwise) and art supplies you have in-house, you can bring anything to life: something suitable for framing, tossing on a couch, or displaying on a desk. From sculpting and assembling, to painting or sketching, photography and pastels—there are no limits other than your imagination. (Also check sites like Pinterest for ideas!)
- Get culinary—If you can prepare it, they will freeze it, heat it, eat it (or eat it as soon as it hits the kitchen). When your pantry is stocked with simple staples, it’s no surprise the edibles you can assemble. From soups to casseroles to desserts that might trump dinner, you can’t deny it: food is love.
- Coupon book—This is a great way for kids to give something special without spending a dime: just have them create a coupon book with things like “One Free Room Cleaning” or “Help With Chores” or anything else they can “give” as a way to show their love.
Sure, the Halloween candy hasn’t been given out yet, but by preparing now you can ensure you have a fantastic holiday season.