The early bird gets the worm – but when it comes to holiday season planning, it’s the extra early bird who gets the savings. With half a year until the winter festivities are upon us, now is actually the perfect time to start preparing. Budget, save and shop smartly over the summer, and you’ll be cruising into the holiday season with a whole lot less stress.
Here’s how to get your extra-early holiday planning on the right track.
1. Shop the Pre-Summer Sales
The start of summer is when many stores offer major sales on last season’s goods. If you shop for gifts now, you might find sizeable discounts on sweaters, socks, scarves and other holiday gifts. Of course, the rules of smart shopping still apply: make a list before you leave the house, and never purchase an item just because it’s a good deal. Know what you’re looking for and don’t be swayed by a promotion price if it’s not something really want.
2. Read Your Bills
It’s very hard to save money if you don’t know how much you’re spending. This summer, commit to reading every credit and debit card bill in full. Print out these bills and go over your expenses with a highlighter. Are there any subscriptions you really use? How are your little costs – like the occasional coffee or smartphone game – adding up at the end of the month? Choose a few items you can commit to cutting out in the months to come, and put aside the money you save for future holiday expenses.
3. Team Up to Save
Saving for the holidays is a long-term process – and it will feel a lot more fun if you’ve got an accountability buddy by your side. Choose a friend and team up to save more together. You can check in regularly about your savings goals and progress, and share helpful tips about budgeting and spending less. You might even make arrangements to call one another before making any purchase over a certain amount if you’re worried about impulse buys interfering with your holiday savings plans.
4. Boost Your Savings Account
Once you’re generating regular savings, the next question to ask is – where’s the best place to keep your money? A high-yield savings account could get you more interest than a regular savings account, so that when the holiday season rolls around, you’ve got more dough to spend. Check out HUECU’s Smart Rewards Savings account, or get in touch to find out what other account options are available to help you make the most of your savings.
5. Get Creative to Earn More
Summer is an excellent time to boost your earnings, before the time-sucking stress of the winter holiday season kicks in. Take advantage of the warmer months to hold a garage sale, or sell pricier items through an online marketplace. You could also pick up the occasional extra shift via a gig work platform such as Instacart or DoorDash. Along these same lines, if you live in a bikeable city you might rent out your car for a few months on a carsharing site like Turo – netting you some extra cash to stash for the holidays.
6. Stock Up on Non-Perishables
Whether or not you consider yourself a whiz in the kitchen, the holiday season always seems to bring a lot of extra food expenses with it. You can save yourself time, hassle and money by slowly stocking up on non-perishable items over the summer. Nuts and dried fruit, spices, wine and canned goods are just a few examples of things to look out for. If you see a good price and you’ve got the storage space – go for it! Just be sure to make a list of what you’ve got so that you don’t purchase doubles in December.
7. Rethink the Festive Season
As long as you’re thinking ahead and saving money, why not reconsider think how you really want to spend the holidays? Instead of heading into the winter on autopilot, you might end the summer with plans for a warm-weather December getaway or a new potluck-style dining event that takes the pressure off a single Thanksgiving host. With some extra-early holiday planning, you can create a winter holiday season that’s fun, festive, and won’t send your finances into the red.