Each year, the months of November and December cost the American consumer billions of dollars. The worst part of this is that everyone has 12 months to prepare, yet, few people do! Well, don’t fret… the Wealthy Idiots have some expert money saving tips for you!
Save really early
Yes, I know it’s already the end of November so you may have missed the ball on this one. But, in my defense, I did recommend this last year. Can’t blame me for this one.
In reality, the cleanest way to save for Christmas would be to start in January. Let’s say you put $100 a month away from January to November, this totals $1100 in spendable cash. You can happily buy your friends and family gifts without the worry of a credit card bill hanging over your head come the New Year.
Credit card rewards
I love this one, personally, yet fail to utilize it. Instead, I use all of our credit card rewards toward our kids college savings accounts. But for most people, this is an extremely viable way of saving cash for the holidays. If you spend $20k throughout the year on a 2% cash back card, you could have $400 in cash back bonuses saved up. This could be even higher if you receive some bonus category cash back.
Keep in mind we’re not telling you to go find something to spend $20k a year on. We’re recommending that, if it fits in your PLAN, you continue to pay bills and other necessities with credit cards in order to accumulate bonus points/cash back rewards.
As a cautionary note, you’ll want to make sure your cash back rewards don’t expire prior to accumulating 12-months worth.
Holiday work bonus
About 24% of employers offer non-performance based holiday bonuses at the end of the year. If you fall in this 24% group, it would be a great Christmas shopping fund. Obviously we never recommend counting on a bonus of any type before receiving it (see Clark Griswold example below), but depending on the company you work for, this could be a pretty reliable means for Christmas shopping.
This one is unique, because it helps EVERYONE save money. For our family, we’d all be guying gifts for 10-15 people if left to our own accords. Instead, we implemented a Secret Santa for the first time this year.
For this format, all of the adults drew a name paired with a shopping list from a hat, and then exclusively spend $80-120 on that person and no one else (kids not included at all). Instead of buying 10-15 $30 gifts, we’re all buying one $100 gift. For my wife and I, this leads to a savings of somewhere between $100 and $200, at least.
This also brings back good childhood memories for me. Growing up, my Mom’s side of the family was so large that we had no choice but to implement a Secret Santa-style Christmas. I always enjoyed trying to guess who my gift came from!
Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance (5 P’s)
As always, our #1 recommendation is to HAVE A PLAN. Everything you do in regards to personal finance should be planned, rather than conducted on a whim. If you can successfully create a plan, your chances for a flawless execution are much higher than without having a plan at all. Merry Christmas to all the Wealthy Idiots out there!