Saving now for a happy holiday
November 20, 2006
The weather is turning cooler and holiday decorations are starting to appear in stores. The signs are everywhere: The holiday season is underway. No matter the size of your gift list, anyone recalling last year’s holiday bills can tell you that it’s never too early to begin saving.
“There’s plenty of time to start saving now for holiday gifts,” said Dr. Kylene Quinn, chair of the School of Business at Argosy University/Seattle. “The old adage that a penny saved is a penny earned is absolutely true, and by starting now, people will be amazed at the amount of money they can save without inconveniencing themselves.”
Dr. Quinn says the strategy is simple: Be aware of where your money goes. If you’re on the lookout for good deals all year round, you can bank those savings, building a substantial holiday nest egg. She suggests the following tips:
Open a dedicated savings account at your bank. With many employers offering direct deposit, it’s easy to build up that account without taking money out of your wallet. And the money earns interest.
Contact your credit card company. Some offer discounts through special promotional or rewards programs. Enrolling is often free, and the savings can be substantial. Keep track of the savings, and deposit an equal amount into your holiday account.
Take advantage of coupons, mail-in rebates and discount cards. Coupons, rebates and in-store promotions for discount-card holders are effective ways of saving money. After a shopping trip, set aside cash equal to the amount you saved. And as rebate checks arrive, deposit them – along with your coupon savings – directly into your savings account.
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Shop year round for holiday gifts. It’s easier when the expense is spread out over the entire year. You never know when you’ll find a sale or rebate offer on an item that may make a perfect gift someone on your list. The gift is less expensive, and there’s one less person on your list.
Contribute to your holiday fund every day. “Many of us eat out at lunchtime and buy our morning coffee during the work week,” points out Dr. Quinn. “Pack a lunch a couple times per week and make coffee at home, banking the money you would have spent.”
While each of these steps may only yield a dollar or two here and there, accumulating these savings throughout the year can add up to a significant nest egg by the time November and December roll around, making the holidays a little jollier.