Christmas can get to be expensive. For years, I would over spend every December, then regret it all January! I’ve tried saving money before the mad rush hits, setting aside a little bit every month. But I always forget!
While visiting with family in Seattle a few years ago, my aunt told me about a great way to save some money for Christmas. It starts by planning ahead. All year long, my aunt saves change in a pickle jar to use as spending money at Christmas time, then transfers the coins from her small jar to a bigger jar when her first jar gets too full. I think the reason this works is because
- It’s fun. There is an element of excitement when you hear the clink of coins in a jar. Yes, it makes more sense to just use a big jar to begin with, but it adds a sense of accomplishment when you can say to yourself, “I have so many coins that I need a bigger jar!”
- It becomes a habit, and habits are hard to break (which in this case would be a good thing!). The hard part (for me) is acquiring coins. I try and use cash which, I know, in this debit-card-age that is a little inconvenient. But like I said, make it a habit. I used to commute 80 miles round trip, so I budgeted out my gas money in cash. When I paid at the gas station I would always make sure I got change in coins. Those coins went to savings in my Christmas fund. Easy as pie!
Ok, now for the truth: Last year I managed to save a grand total of just over $96 for Christmas using my aunt’s coin-saving method.
That wasn’t as much as I was hoping for, but it helped. HOWEVER, I had opted to not utilize my aunt’s secret trick: She cheats. She will hand a cashier a $5 bill while out doing errands and ask for him to exchange it for $5 in coins. This way, she is socking away closer to $40 a month to save for Christmas, instead of my measly $8.
Actually, she is very smart, so this year I’m setting money aside for Christmas in a style more similar to my aunt, only with less pennies and nickles to roll and less cash to carry around:
I use my debit card when I’m shopping. When asked if I’d like cash back, I always say yes. If there is an option to get $5 back, or to key in that you’d like even less (like $2), I do it. Then I stick the money in my pocket to shove in a sock drawer when I’m home. I try not to put the money in my purse, since way too often things go into the purse and never make it out again. If the money is in my pocket, I have to deal with it before I change into pajamas at night and put my clothes in the laundry.
Cash starts out in a messy pile-did you think I was kidding about the sock drawer? Then I move it to an envelope (classy, huh?)
So that’s my money-saving tip. If you have a great way to set aside Christmas savings, I’d love to hear it!