If you’re one of the lucky few who has already set aside money for the holidays, then well done. Chances are, you’re like the rest of us, who had the best intentions to start saving early this year and wonder how it’s already October. With the impending time change and clocks going back in a matter of weeks, you may be wishing that you could turn back time as well. Whatever derailed your savings plan, the question is…what now? Holiday shopping season is nearly upon us, and those of us who don’t have a savings club maturing are looking for our Plan B.
Here are some tips to help get you started:
Check your regular contributions
Are you close to maxing out the amount you can contribute annually to a health plan, retirement plan, or something of that sort? If so, you might want to consider pausing your contributions until the New Year and freeing up that little bit of extra income. Whether it’s paycheck deductions to fund a Health Savings Account or 401K and retirement contributions, resources abound to help you determine what you can contribute in the current tax year . Plus, it’s always a good idea to consult a tax advisor if you’re not sure.
Take advantage of extra paycheck months
For those of us who get paid weekly or bi-weekly, these “extra” paychecks happen a couple of times a year, and they are always welcome! This December is a great example, since there are five Thursdays and five Fridays. So, if you can make that extra payday work for you, it may bail you out just in time for some last-minute shopping!
Thrift is still in vogue
Think about your local consignment shop or websites that resell merchandise. Not only do they offer opportunities to make a little bit of money on short notice, but also the potential that you just may find that perfect gift that you were (or weren’t) looking for…and at a fraction of the price. After all, the original packaging doesn’t even matter when it comes from the North Pole, right? This suggestion is particularly relevant if the person on your list is under the age of ten, and they have the tendency to grow out of toys at a rate on par with growing out of clothes! Feel good about being part of the reuse and recycle movement.
Keep it simple to stay sane
Whatever you do manage to set aside for the holidays, consider keeping those funds in a separate account where you can easily see what’s coming in and going out without mixing it in with your daily activity. Make sure it’s easy to access; maybe a separate checking account with a debit card and access to a mobile app for transferring funds while you’re on the go. Then, set a budget for everyone on your list, or get creative with your gift ideas. Something homemade, home-baked, or sentimental offers a personalized alternative that will mean more than whatever you can pick up at the store.
Try again next year
Finally, how do you begin again for next year? Maybe you let your refund for redeemable bottles and cans accumulate at your grocery store all year, and then use it toward your holiday grocery bill. Or, you could set up an automatic transfer of $10 a week into an account designated just for holiday shopping. No matter what savings option makes sense for you, it’s best to start with a plan…even if it doesn’t stick!