July is the half-way mark through the year, which indicates Christmas is just six months away. While it might be tempting to save the preparations and shopping till closer to December, you can minimize potential stress and save money with a little bit of early planning — beginning in July.
Start a Christmas spending fund
Julie Jaggernath, contributor with myMoneyCoach, advises establishing a savings goal in July. Look at your total expenses from last year’s holiday to set an estimated amount you’ll need to save this year. Divide that sum by six and you’ll get the monthly amount you should set aside for the next six months. By proactively saving money gradually from now until Christmas, you can simply tap into this fund when the holidays arrive instead of maxing out your credit card.
Save money by cutting down on expenses
TheIntentionalMom.com founder Jennifer Roskamp recommends curbing your monthly expenses. One way you can do this is to downgrade a monthly subscription. For example, if you can spend less on your monthly internet bill or cell phone plan by opting for a different plan or going with a different carrier, then do so. Another way to cut back is to cancel subscriptions and memberships that aren’t crucial or that you seldom use. For example, maybe you can cancel a few magazine subscriptions or a gym membership you never use.
Make homemade gifts in advance
The Simple Dollar contributor Trent Hamm explains that he and his family start making homemade gifts for friends and family in July. Stationery, soap, bath products, meals in a jar, hand-knitted clothing accessories and photo calendars are just some of the potential presents you can construct at home at low costs.
Homemade gifts are more personal than store-bought ones. Plus, having these gifts made before December will significantly reduce the time you spend waiting in retail store lines during the holiday season.
Begin cleaning your house
July is also a great time to start tidying up your place of residence. Whether you live in an apartment, condo or house, chances are you usually find yourself spending way too much time cleaning around the holidays in preparation for parties and overnight guests. By beginning the process in summer and chipping away at the messiest zones of your abode, you’ll spend less time cleaning once December comes, as Retro Housewife Goes Green founder Lisa Sharp suggests.
Book holiday flights early
While traveling during the Christmas season is common, so is spending a fortune on last-minute flight tickets. Mid-summer is often the best time to purchase tickets for many destinations, as CNBC News contributor Abigail Summerville notes. For instance, airfare tends to be low during July for the following popular destinations: Houston, Seattle, Denver, Atlanta, Mexico City and Washington, D.C. To further maximize your savings, sign up for fare alerts, which automatically alert you when the ticket price drops.
By implementing these practical strategies, you and your family can minimize expenditures while avoiding stress and the headache of waiting in long lines this holiday.
This article is presented by Colonial Buick GMC in Watertown, Massachusetts.