The child in me often gets super excited when the holiday season rolls around. My inner adult is not as phased and more concerned about how much everything is going to cost. The Christmas season can be super expensive. When is a great time to start saving for Christmas?
On the contrary, it should be all about celebrating, spending time with loved ones, and showing gratitude. If you start saving for Christmas early, you can avoid all the stress that comes with having to stretch your budget and pick up overtime shifts to afford the holidays.
Over the past few years, I’ve started saving for Christmas anywhere from 6-12 months in advance and it’s been life-changing. The earlier you start saving, the better. Still, there are plenty of passive ways to save if you’re playing catching up.
Here are 5 effortless ways to start saving for Christmas.
1. Set Up an Automatic Withdrawal
This is probably the most basic way to ensure that you have enough savings for Christmas without doing much work. Choose how much you wish to save each month or pay period and set up an automatic recurring transfer from your checking to your savings account.
I decided to set up an automatic transfer of $67 to my Christmas savings fund each year. That way, we can have $800 saved up by December. Saving this amount is month has been super easy since it’s low and not as noticeable.
Had I waited until the last minute and tried to pressure myself to come up with $200 – $300 per month, that would have been more overwhelming.
The trick is to set up your automatic transfer to happen shortly after you get paid. That way, your automatic savings will kick in before you get the chance to splurge or buy extra stuff.
2. Lower a Bill You Don’t Care About
We all have those bills that we pay each month but aren’t super excited about. Choose one (or a few) of those from your budget and find ways to lower them.
This may involve doing things like delaying turning your heat on during the fall so you can keep your bill low, shopping around for a better car insurance rate, lowering your gym membership level, canceling a subscription, or even driving less during the month so you don’t spend as much gas.
That last one is one of my favorite things to do. Since I work at home, I don’t drive much anyway. One month, I really wanted to drive to Mt. Rushmore with one of my friends for spring break so I saved most of the money for my gas budget by reducing my driving.
Instead, I funneled that money toward the trip. You can do the same thing when it comes to saving for Christmas. Once you lower your bills make sure you’re saving the difference so you can be prepared for the holiday season.
3. Earn Cash Back
Another effortless way to start saving for Christmas is to earn cashback. If you have good credit and know how to use credit cards wisely, consider getting a cashback card.
There are so many solid options that pay a good rate. However, I’d recommend choosing a card that doesn’t set strict limits on how much cashback you can earn. I have a Citi cashback card that allows me to earn as much cashback as I want.
I often redeem this cash via direct deposit so I can use the money for anything. If you save up your cashback earnings all year round, you could have a decent chunk of money to use for Christmas spending.
If you don’t like using cashback credit cards, another option is to use sites like Swagbucks and Rakuten (Ebates). These sites will pay you cashback for regular online shopping and referrals. Rakuten pays quarterly and anything I earn from there goes straight toward boosting my Christmas saving fund.
Another app you might want to check out is Ibotta which pays rebates for in-store and online shopping. I like to use Ibotta when I go to grocery shopping or have to pick up household items each month.
4. Start Saving Found Money
Found money is when you receive money that you weren’t planning on getting. This can basically be anything outside of your 9-5 job and side hustle income.
Some common types of found money include bonuses at work (extra money that wasn’t guaranteed like your paycheck), tax refunds, and gift cards but that only scratches the surface.
You can literally get found money from anywhere. One time, my husband received a $100 tip when driving for Uber. A few months back, we received a $400 check in the mail because we’d overpaid in our mortgage escrow account.
We also save spare change that’s found around the house throughout the year. Back in the spring, I has saved over $100 of spare change in my savings jar. I used that money to do take my son and my brother to the Chicago Skydeck, something that has been on my bucket list forever.
My point is that you can use whatever found money you come across to effortlessly start saving for Christmas this year. You weren’t planning on spending the money anyway, so you might as well just put it in savings and keep living as though you never received it.
5. Utilize Bank Account Bonuses
Thinking of switching banks? Even if you aren’t you might want to once you hear that tons of big banks are offering to pay you cash bonuses for opening an account with them.
There are certain rules to follow like the fact that most banks want you to make a certain minimum opening deposit or at least set up direct deposit. Some terms may require you to wait 30-60 days to receive the bonus to ensure that you kept the account open.
Either way, this is easy money you can earn for Christmas. With Christmas just a few months away, you’ll want to start early and check out some of the top current bank account bonuses here.
Don’t get stressed out if you’re behind with Christmas savings. The best thing you can do is form a plan and start taking action now.
Even if money is tight or you’re short on time, you can utilize these low-effort ways to start saving for Christmas whether that means savings $50 per paycheck or earning cashback for regular shopping.
How are you building your holiday savings fund?