Almost every bank in the nation has a Christmas Club. The idea is that each month you deposit a certain amount, usually around $50, and when the account matures is November, you will have that amount of savings plus a menial amount of interest to boot. However, should you withdraw the money before the designated maturity date, please note that you will incur a penalty. If your company offers direct deposit, and you think a Christmas Club might be something you are interested in, talk to your Human Resource Director about depositing a portion of your paycheck automatically into your Christmas Club account…it’ll make the path to holiday wealth a little easier….
If you are someone who frequents flea markets, fairs, and discount stores or if you troll the bargain basement websites, then make a list of those on whom you will want to bestow a gift come Christmastime, and keep it in your wallet. That way, when you see an amazing vase on sale for a steal, buy it and cross Aunt Mae off your list. Just think – if you buy a gift in March, you don’t have to think about it again for another nine months…and you skip the crowds. The hard part here is keeping it a secret for nine months!
The Birthday Rule
This concept stems from the idea that it is not necessary to buy someone a present for the holidays, just because it’s socially expected. Everyone has a birthday, and odds are, you don’t have too many friends and family with identical birthdays. So shower your loved ones with affection, attention and, of course, great trinkets on their birthday….then when the Holidays roll around, you can make due with getting them a great card. An even better idea is to take many rolls of pictures or even roll some videotape on the birthday celebration, and throw together a handmade gift of a photo card commemorating the joyous birthday event, or compile a short video that they can keep forever. The bottom line is that this way, your friends and family get the lavish individual attention they deserve, and you get to spread out your splurges.
The Bonus Check
Another rule for budgeting comes from the grand tradition of a bonus from your boss at the end of the year. Granted, many companies are backing off of the bonus concept due to the dismal economy, but if you are one of the lucky ones who can expect a bonus, the guideline is to use the forthcoming bonus as your limit. If you are expecting a $750 bonus, you will be left with approximately $500 after taxes. Use this (post-tax) money only - and hopefully, less - to take care of your Christmas list. Your regular household budget won’t take a huge holiday hit. How can you be sure you’re getting a bonus, and if so, how can you guess how much it is, you ask? Well, most companies that typically award performance bonuses, will usually tell their staff around September or October if they plan on giving or suspending bonuses that year. When in doubt, ask your boss…