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It's not too late to start your Christmas budget

It's not too late to start your Christmas budget

September 5, 2018
Budgeting

With cooler weather around the corner and Fall items on the shelves, have you been thinking about how you're going to buy Christmas gifts this year?

Whether you've been budgeting all year or just beginning to think about it, you have plenty of time to get some money saved and avoid a bad credit card hangover come January. So with a few short months until Christmas, how can anyone save up enough money to pay for the holidays?

Save $40 per week starting now.

Beginning today, put $40 in an account just for holiday spending – gifts, travel, decorations, etc. And start right now! You can use a current savings or ideally open a new savings to keep your holiday money completely separate so it doesn't accidently get spent on other things.

How much will saving $40 per week get you come shopping time? About $500 by the first week of December!  Depending on who you're buying for and how much you plan to travel for Christmas, $500 may be too much or not enough, but it sure is a good chunk of money and can really help your holiday budget.

Not sure where you can find an extra $40 each week? Here are some tips.

Drink more water.
Drinking water not only has great health benefits, but it also has great financial benefits. Think of how many convenient store or Sonic runs you make in a month. At $1.89 a pop – no pun intended – opting for water over a fountain drink twice a week can save you $15 each month. That's almost half of your monthly savings goal right there!

Invite friends over.
Instead of a night on the town or going out to eat, why not stay in instead? Invite some friends over, have them bring a side dish, and spend an evening visiting, listening to music, playing cards, sitting around a fire pit, or pop some popcorn and put in the latest Red Box rental for a movie night.

Make the most of leftovers.
Leftovers are frequently overlooked by many people, but it's a great way to save some money….and it can be fun to try new things! Take ham, for example. If you have left over ham from the evening before, it's perfect for a crockpot of beans, ham and cheese quesadillas, or even homemade ham and pineapple pizza.

If you can, make your own.
Comfort food season is right around the corner and homemade noodles taste amazing and are very inexpensive to make. Combine those with some leftover chicken and you have yourself a great supper. What about that bread machine in your bottom cabinet? Clean it up and start making your own bread. It's cheaper and tastier than the same old loaf from the store.

Cancel unused memberships.
Haven't been to the gym since February? If you're not locked into a contract or have a cancellation fee, you might cancel that $45 membership and pick it back up in January when you are motivated about those New Year resolutions.

Don't spend a lot of money entertaining your children.
Kids can be entertained cheaply – especially the little ones. It's true what they say, children will remember the time spent and the memories made more than the money you spent on them. Head to the park, play catch in the backyard, build a blanket fort, blow bubbles, draw with sidewalk chalk, bring out the bikes and go for a ride, or grab some dollar store candy and go watch the football game.

Hit the library.
Instead of your weekly trip to Books A Million or book-spree on Amazon, head to the library. And the library isn't just for borrowing books. You can check out some really great movies for a fun night in when the weather turns cold.

Take advantage of online bill pay at your bank.
This may seem like a plug for online services coming from a bank, but it's just a simple fact. When you take into account the $0.50 stamp, envelopes, and the $2 fee you're charged for paying over the phone, those really add up when you think about how many bills you pay each month. Check with your bank to make sure online bill pay is free and set up your bills to be paid online.

Pack food for road trips.
Pack your cooler with some snacks, drinks, and some easy meals for the trip. Instead of locating places to eat on your way and killing an hour of travel time, eat on the road or stop at a nice park and have a quick picnic and enjoy the leg stretch. This is perfect for kids because you're prepared with snacks and they can burn some energy playing instead of sitting in a booth at a restaurant after hours in the car.

There are many ways to save a few dollars, but these are just a few of our favorites. We'd love to hear your great money saving tricks, so be sure to share them with us and it might just be in our next list. Happy saving!

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