The leaves have just begun to change color yet before you know it, the winter holiday season will be upon us. If you’re like most people, as soon as the winter holidays come to an end you forget about them until December of the next year! This is the main reason why so many families associate increased stress levels over the holiday season. If you prepare in advance, you’ll reduce much of your stress and have an easier time enjoying the most wonderful time of the year. Here are some tips for holiday savings accounts and how to plan ahead to keep the holidays stress free and enjoyable.
Set up a Holiday Savings Account
The National Retail Federation estimates the average American family spends over $680 on their winter holiday shopping expenses. If you haven’t budgeted for your shopping, trying to come up with such a large amount of money in one or two months time is incredibly stressful. You can check interest rates of savings accounts on several accounts to find the one which offers you the best interest to help you reach your savings goal a little faster.
It’s never too late to start a holiday savings account (even now is better than waiting until December!). But ideally, you’d keep your account year after year so you can contribute smaller amounts each week or month throughout the year. When you find the perfect gift for someone on your shopping list, just use money from your holiday account to make the purchase.
Another method for making the holiday season less stressful financially is to use Layaway programs. You can use a store or online layaway program in combination with a holiday savings account, too.
Layaway used to be very popular. It’s a method of shopping which allows you to go through the store or website and select everything you want to purchase. You bring it to the layaway department or indicate on the website that the items are for layaway; pay a small fee and usually a deposit on the purchase, and then you’ll create a payment plan for paying for the total purchase over time. The fees paid for layaway purchases are almost always less than credit card interest, and if you’re tight on cash layaway is a good option for getting holiday gifts without completely blowing the budget.
You’ll find layaway at Kmart, Marshalls, Sears, TJ Maxx and Burlington Coat factory. If you prefer to shop online, you can use elayaway.com to shop a variety of retailers offering layaway programs.
As soon as the winter holidays end, start planning for next year’s holidays! The sooner you have your holiday shopping money set aside, the more you will be able to relax when the holiday events begin. Figure out the total amount you expect to spend for the holidays and when you would like to do your shopping (why not do it in September or October and beat the holiday rush?). If you intend to spend $600 in October and you start saving in January, you’ll need to set aside about $67 per month – or about $16 per week. When you look at the expenses this way, it’s much less stressful!
This is a guest post from Debbie Dragon. Debbie is a freelance writer for DepositAccounts.com, where you can compare savings account ratesfrom dozens of banks in one place.
Photo credit: f-land
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