It's late October already (Halloween really snuck up on me!). I have yet to hear a Christmas song in a store, but maybe that's because I've been avoiding shopping recently. Still, it's undeniable: the holiday shopping season will be here soon. VERY soon. For some of us, it's already come and gone, but I'm not that forward-thinking or disciplined.
I fall into this trap every year. Black Friday comes around and I haven't even thought about a holiday shopping list, never mind putting together a budget for it. Well, this year I've decided to take just a little time and figure out just how much I should plan on spending during the holidays. And then I'm going to ImpulseSave the heck out of the next month in order to get there.
So, how much will I need? Here's my rough calculation. Note that my husband and I typically split costs between us for our two families. So this is what I plan to save for my half of the gifts. Costs are estimated - also, because my family is big and my siblings don’t care much about gifts for themselves, we’ve shifted to buying bigger gifts for the kiddos. :)
- Parents - $40 x 2 = $80
- Siblings and their spouses - $20 x 6 = $120
- Nieces/nephews - $40 x 6 = $240
- Hubby = $100
- Coworkers/friends = $50
- Stocking stuffers and extras = $30
Grand total: $620. Yikes!
Now, I've already got about $180 in my Holidays goal. With just 4 weeks left until Black Friday, I'll have to save about $16 a day or $110 a week. Here's how I plan to do it:
Bring my lunch to work every day. I’ve gotten into the bad habit of buying lunch almost every day, which usually runs about $8-$10. I can pack a lunch that costs less than half of that, saving me about $6 a day.
Skip the coffee shop. Even though I quit drinking coffee over two years ago, I still have a weakness for Starbucks. Decaf coffee, chai, and iced green tea are my special weaknesses, and for a while I was going almost every morning and/or afternoon. By going without this I can save about $3 a day or $15 a week (I’m ignoring the weekends).
Walk to work instead of taking the subway. I live a mile and a half from the office, which makes for a decent 25-minute walk, or a really short subway ride (just one stop). I’ll allow one day a week in case of inclement weather, but at $2 a ride I’ll be saving about $16 every week.
Avoid at least one impulse grocery buy each week. I’m a sucker for Trader Joe’s. I never go there with a list, because I like discovering new items. This one is going to be tough, but I will sacrifice at least one item every grocery trip. Average savings = $5 a week.
Reward myself every time I run. This is a little counter-intuitive, but I find that ImpulseSaving after I run is a good way to encourage that behavior. If I aim to save $20 a week, and save $1 for every mile I run, that means I’ll run 20 miles each week! Normally I would save my runs into a special “fun” goal just for me, but for the next 4 weeks I’ll put it toward holiday shopping.
Do my own ‘do. My hairdresser is going to hate me for this, but I plan to skip my next color appointment and do the home coloring thing instead. Total saved = $60, or $15 a week.
Using my autosaves. I’ve set my ImpulseSave autosave at $10 a week, which will help give me a little boost each week without worrying about it.
Grand total: $111 a week!
Wish me luck! Do you have any other good savings tips? Tell us about them in the comments.