Christmas and the holiday season may just be drawing to a close, but now is the perfect time to plan ahead for the 2011 holiday season. Last week, I mentioned how you can get a great deal on sale and clearance items to help save on your gift giving, but you obviously can’t do ALL of your 2011 holiday shopping right now.
Instead, now is the time to plan ahead and start saving. The holidays aren’t an unexpected expense – you know they are coming. They arrive at the same time every single year. So, start planning NOW to have a less stressful (financially at least) 2011 holiday! Here are three ways to plan ahead:
A penny saved is a penny earned. We use cash to pay for nearly everything. If you are taking part in the Debt Free Challenge, you will soon be doing this as well. This means I am always getting change back on my purchases. Rather than paying with pennies, dimes, etc., I always pay only with bills. Then, I save my change. If you start this at the beginning of this year, you will be surprised at how much money you can accrue in just 11 short months!
Review your 2010 spending. The best way to know what you will spend for 2011 is to just take a look at what you spend for 2010. I normally increase our total by about 5-10% (to account for inflation or deals that I got I won’t get again next year). Then, divide that total by the number of pay periods you have annually: 26 if paid every 2 weeks, 24 if paid bi-monthly or 12 if paid monthly. The dollar amount you see should look pretty reasonable. Just transfer that amount into your savings account every pay period and before you know it, you will have saved up and will be able to pay for all of your gifts with cash.
Watch for deals all year long. While you won’t know for certain what item your or your family members will want in December, you do know of things you will need such as wrapping paper, gift tags, etc. You might also be able to put together gift baskets. Or perhaps you are crafty and can create home made gifts. Keep your eyes open all year long for the clearance deals you might see in your stores. You never know what treasure you will find — and find a great deal on it to boot!
By thinking ahead right now, you can save yourself a lot of stress come November, December and even January – when the credit card bills come a knockin’!