As summer comes to a close people will soon begin thinking about fall plans and eventually, the holiday season.
Yes, the holidays! I realize Christmas is 4 months away, but we all know that it will be here sooner than we think!
Therefore, it’s important to consider the amount of money you have in your savings account as you certainly don’t want to be trying to figure out how to pay off Christmas credit card debt at the beginning of next year!
Today’s post is dedicated to helping you debt proof your Christmas and help you catch up on Christmas savings, if you’ve been lagging behind. Let’s look at some ways you can can either decrease expenses or increase income to meet your Christmas savings goal.
Decrease Expenses for Christmas Savings
Start with your budget – The best place to start in decreasing current expenses is to evaluate your budget (hopefully you have one!). Determine how much money you plan to spend for Christmas. This is easily done by making a list of gift recipients and creating a budget for each of them.
Then, determine the gap between your savings account and Christmas budget and divide by 4 to see how much you’ll need to contribute from now until the end of the year. You’re done if you can manage this additional savings with any surplus already available in your monthly spending. If not, keep on reading for some creative ideas…
Drop cable – Assuming you now have a deficit from Christmas savings, start looking for some larger expenses that you can drop. These will be the expenses you don’t need for everyday survival such as cable TV. Sure, it will be painful, but keep in mind you’re dropping such expenses from your budget for only a few months and then you can consider adding them back.
Give up dining out – Most people spend hundreds of dollars per month dining out. If this is you, consider how much you could contribute to Christmas savings by dropping dining out for at least 2 of the 4 months. What would happen if you drop it for 3? Perhaps just changing to dining out once per month could make a significant different for you?
Reduce your cell phone plan – Have you reviewed your cell phone and determined if you’re rolling over a lot of minutes each month? If most of your calls are to the same carrier, you may not be eating into your “Anytime” minutes and have some extra savings at the end of each month. This could mean you’re overpaying! Take a close look at your cell phone bill and see if you can drop down to a less expensive plan.
Automate your savings – Finally, make sure your savings is automatic. In other words, set up an automatic transfer to your savings account so the money doesn’t get absorbed into your regular spending each month. Automation is the key to building up any type of savings because it protects your money from you. Most people don’t have a problem saving for retirement when it’s automatically taken from their paycheck each month. The same is true when sending money to a regular savings account for Christmas!
Increase Income for Christmas Savings
Take on a freelance gig – With the growth of the internet, many people are finding ways to make extra money by providing online services such as website management, copywriting and even technical work. There are many options to freelance and they can quickly earn you in the hundreds and possibly thousands over the course of a few months. Check out www.odesk.com to get started.
Seek part-time employment – Of course, there is always offline work that most people can find by applying at local retail shops or even in seeking part-time employment at the mall. This will certainly depend on your availability to work and can sometimes be difficult when you’re working a day job. That said, taking on extra work for 2 – 3 months isn’t nearly as bad as having Christmas credit card debt to deal with at the beginning of next year.
Clean out and sell – Your very own small business opportunity may be right under your nose (or in your closet!). People have created full-time employment by selling items on Craiglist and Ebay. Most of these people simply get started by selling their own stuff they no longer need or use. Personally, I’ve been able to make extra money by selling yard tools, furniture, clothes and much more. Aside from these different avenues, a good ole’ fashioned garage sale can often raise a few hundred dollars.
Make stuff to sell – How crafty are you? If you’re talented with your hands consider creating something you can sell. Many hobbies turn into business opportunities and there are hardly limits to what you can sell online these days. Along the same lines, making stuff can certainly generate income, but it can reduce the amount you need to save, if what you craft can be part of your Christmas giving.
Take in a boarder – I know this might be an extreme income generating move for some of you, but this will work for some people just fine. Perhaps you have extra space or an apartment over the garage. That space could be rented short-term or long-term to generate a lot of extra cash every month. Lots of people are moving through town and need places to stay one or two nights. Obviously, use necessary safety precautions with this idea and don’t put yourself at any risk. But given the right situation, this can be a nice side income!
Hopefully, these ideas have sparked some creative thinking to keep you out of Christmas debt this year! There are obviously many more ideas to either generate income or decrease expenses that many of you are using today, so let’s hear about them in the comments!
If this list isn’t enough, check out PT’s 52 Ways to Make Extra Money!
Photo credit: Shawn Collins