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It’s Time to Start Your Christmas Savings Plan

Family Decorating Holiday Tree

Mr. Buble and many other artists sing “I’m dreaming of a debt free/less stressful Christmas!” Okay, I know it’s supposed to be “White Christmas.” And for us Vermonters, a white Christmas is bound to happen! But for most, the holidays bring more than wrapping paper, bows, and gift cards; it brings worry of being able to afford it all, which makes this a perfect time to start thinking about a Christmas savings plan.

In 2016, the average single shopper spent $929.00 at Christmastime, and eMarketer expects a 15.8% increase in 2017, which means that each person will spend an average of $1,075.78 this year. It’s crazy, but some will spend even more than that. T. Rowe Price data confirmed that in 2016 parents spent, on average, $422.00 per child, and some spent as much as $550.00.

Phew. After reading that, who wants to pack a bag and spend Christmas on a private island with nothing but palm trees to decorate? However, with a little bit of organizing and list making, preparing for the holidays will not only be fun but also less stressful. Below are some helpful tips to make the holiday experience a little more enjoyable.

A quick internet search will bring up all sorts of savings plans, some of them for Christmas savings and some of them just for general savings. My favorite is by Clark Howard, who offers a 12-week savings plan as well as some tips for cutting other costs so it doesn’t hurt so much to save. He varies the amount saved per week, from $60 to $100, so those 100 dollar weeks could hurt. But the way I look at it, even if you’re not able to save the full amount, what you are saving is going to help a lot while you’re shopping.

 

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Well… Maurie Backman wrote an article, noting that 56% of Americans admitted that they would use only credit cards to get through the shopping season, and 16% said it would take them six months to pay it off. So if we take the average interest rate at 17.99% for a balance of $1,075.78, the monthly payment will be around $100.00, and the overall interest charges will be around $108.00. That’s $108.00 more that you’ll pay than if you saved the money beforehand.

Making your list and checking it twice, nailing down a budget and not getting your Starbucks pumpkin spice can be a huge relief when getting ready to start shopping, but sticking to your budget is key. Knowing who you’re shopping for and the maximum you’re spending will make the endeavor of going into the store that much less stressful because you will know what you want and you won’t be fighting over the last Madden NFL 13 video game. Yes I know you want the pumpkin spice at Starbucks but, as much as we all love our favorite holiday beverage, if you save the $4.00 you could spend on coffee per day, you can save the $160.00 per month you’ll need to get your shopping done. And if anyone knows how much you love coffee, maybe you’ll have a gift card awaiting you on Christmas Day.

Want to DIY? Who doesn’t love a good Pinterest session, and the thousands of ideas for making gifts for all your loved ones and friends. These ideas can be good for your budget and a good option when you can’t find something for someone on your list. It also feels better when you put thought and energy into a gift.

Starting early and stretching your purchases over the last four months of the year can also help with the idea of doing it all in one shopping trip. I myself start buying gifts or getting ideas at the end of summer, when many items (like the grill sets for the grill master in your family) go on sale, or the ski resorts start going out with specials on their ski passes if you buy them now.

I hope some of these ideas will help during the upcoming holiday season and remember TIME is the best gift of all and just being with your family/friends can make a world of difference.

Happy Holidays!

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