Monday, May 16, 2016
Christmas Fund-Money, Perks, and Other Contributions
I'm getting inspired by the savings plans of others that starts early and leads to a Christmas season that does not break the budget. First, let me start with the fact that I am trying to tone down Christmas on the gift front overall, and have been doing this the last few years with some success. While I love a good old fashion decorated house, specials treats, and all the trimmings, I've not strained the budget for these. I have loads of decorations that I use year to year and plan the special foods around what seems to be good buys, as I think the specialness come from the preparation and presentation more from the cost anyway. We've decreased whom we buy gifts for, and incorporate some "needs" into the gift giving for our immediate family. Still, I like to shop for special gifts that are just right, and needed, and spending a bit less, or getting more for my money will be appreciated. As DD#2 has another school trip, part of her gifts will be in trip form.
My plan will be two fold. One, I'll continue to keep my eyes out for quality gifts and items that enhance the holiday year round. I am quite behind in that right now, and have nothing squirreled away. Wait, I just found an almost 1/2 price curling wand for DD#2 that she was saying she wanted during show choir season. One gift-check. Second, I will put little perks, refunds, and gift cards earned towards shopping later. This account has been started with a Target gift card earned, though not yet in hand. I'd love to accumulate $200 by December 1, or roughly 20% of what I am budgeting this year for all Christmas related spending. One point though, I need to be aware to not double count the savings and earnings. For example, Target is great at having buy X number of something, get a $5 gift card. I can count that $5.00 either as part of the initial savings on the household budget, or towards the Christmas fund-not both or it is artificial.
There are some times when I'll need to do both, for example, I have $10 Kohl's cash to use now, when DD#1 used my card to purchase some needed work clothes so I could get the rewards, and she could get my discount, but it has short time window. I'll put it towards a few clearance items for the girls like socks or tights. I generally set a budget per person, but depending on how I am able to shop, like the Kohl's cash, I may spend less on one than another and just don't worry about being equal financially, but rather focus on the quality of the gift and if it is right for the recipient.
I've decreased my budget for $1,200,as on paper we put $100 per month away for Christmas, to $1,000, and hope to have $200 of that in alternative cash. If successful, the $400 can either stay in regular savings, or be applied towards another goal area such as travel or home improvement. Any secret's out there for building your Christmas fund?