Christmas is right around the corner. I know this because my wife started decorating the house (entirely too early I might add). One of the best parts of Christmas is the opportunity to give people presents. One of the worst parts of Christmas is the endless spending to buy these gifts. Well, we’ve got some suggestions that should make your life slightly better!
Any plan is better than no plan
If you don’t have a plan for Christmas savings, you should get one, ASAP! Don’t wait until the last minute and just start piling money on your credit cards (unless that is your plan, as it has been mine in the past).
Obviously it’s a little too late to develop an elaborate Christmas savings plan, but that doesn’t mean all is lost. Below, we’ll talk about some creative ways to save for Christmas, salvaging some of that financial discipline along with the Christmas spirit!
Credit card bonuses and rewards
This idea is pretty widespread in 2021. Often referred to as “churning”, this is the process of maximizing credit card rewards and new card signup bonuses.
As an example, we know that we have a $4,000 property tax bill due in December for our rental properties. My wife took out a new credit card with a $600 signup bonus which will also accumulate another $80 in points during our spending period for a total value of $680. So we’re essentially getting $680 for doing something we would already be doing. Pretty awesome!
This same principle can be applied to Christmas shopping. If you know you are going to spend $1200, why not find a credit card that will give a $200 bonus on that $1200 spend? The exception to this: department store credit cards. I get it, the big box store may give you 20% off your purchase for signing up, which looks quite appealing. But don’t be fooled, these credit cards are a trap and lead to horrible spending habits accompanied by astronomical interest rates. Try to avoid it.
Side hustles are in!
In today’s labor market, there are a ton of side hustles available. Maybe you can pick up an extra 10 hours per week at a department store hiring seasonal workers or possibly moonlight in your primary career field. This would equate to approximately $447 per month after taxes based on $13/hr, an amount that could certainly put a dent in that Christmas shopping list.
Savings on monthly expenses
When was the last time you shopped for better car insurance rates? Cell phone rate? What about streaming services – do you have any that are no longer being used? What about that box service that you forgot to cancel?
By taking a look at your recurring monthly expenses, you’ll often find places for small improvements. These improvements can add up over time and can certainly make up a sizable Christmas fund. You’ll also sleep better knowing you aren’t overpaying for services.
Selling unused items online
I love this one. Our kids are growing really fast and leaving behind things like strollers, wagons, toys, etc. Posted online, these items sell quickly. Off hand, I think we’ve made $200-300 in the past 45 days or so. Obviously some items add up quicker than others, but nonetheless, this can make a huge difference in your Christmas budget.
The only word of caution on this is to be wary of scams. Scammers are everywhere and just because it’s a festive time of year doesn’t mean they’ll go into hiding. Certain sales websites are ripe for scams. My preferred sales medium is Facebook Marketplace. Living in a small county, I usually share “mutual friends” with most of my potential buyers, giving me confidence that they’re a real person with good intentions.
Sell that old garbage life insurance policy
It’s no secret that Wealthy Idiots hate universal, whole, etc. life insurance policies. It wouldn’t be completely shocking if you’re reading this thinking about how your grandparents bought you a whole life policy as an infant. Well, this can have significant cash value at present and virtually no additional value at death. So why not cash it out? My wife had one of these prior to our marriage and ended up cashing it out for nearly $5k!
Now, you shouldn’t spend $5k on Christmas presents, but hey, you do you!
Traditional savings early in the year
This isn’t innovative at all, and is rather boring, but you could always start saving for Christmas at the beginning of the year, which is certain to make it less painful. I have a good friend that has 10 savings accounts, all earmarked for different things throughout the year. He has a “hunting fund”, a “home repair fund”, “kids sports fund”, etc. This ensures that all of the bigger expenses are planned for and property allotted.
The name of the game is planning
While in the Marine Corps, I quickly learned the 5 P’s – Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. More specifically, in the infantry, we use 5 paragraph orders to ensure operations are well-planned and targeted for success. This holds true in virtually all aspects of personal finance. The moral of the story isn’t that you should save for Christmas, but rather, that you should find a way to plan and account for ALL types of spending. Why be caught off-guard when you can just plan ahead?
Sell that old garbage life insurance policy