This tip is late for this year but (I think) invaluable for the years to come. Get a Christmas Club account at your bank. They either deduct a set amount from your checking account ($20 a month or more) or you deposit monthly. It runs for 10 months and at the end of the time Oct/Nov you get a check for the years' amount plus interest. I'm careless about putting money by every month, but if it's not in the account, I can't spend it and then I have a lump sum when I most need it. One year I had to draw out the accumulated dollars in the summer, but I've done this for a long time.
I did a post on saving for Christmas the "old fashioned way".
The envelope method has never let me down! My bank does not have Christmas Club accounts anymore.
I also posted on getting back to its the thought that counts.
If you have time take a look.
Even though my parents had a Christmas club account when I was a child ( in the 80's), my mom collected ALL the change from couch cushions, my father's forgotten pockets, anywhere she found it. Over Thanksgiving break we would sit around and roll it..before the machines that do it for you. I remember one year this large 5 gallon bucket paid for Christmas & a trip to Florida to visit family!
We don't have a Christmas Club account, but we do make or buy presents throughout the year. Starting in January. I prefer handmade gifts and I give mostly handmade gifts. I usually make everyone at least one or two knitted dishcloths. They are really good for washing dishes. I also make knitted or crocheted scrubbies for scrubbing pans and such.
This is just the way we do it.
This is a great way to save, if you have a bank that does this. If not, start one on your own. Take the amount you need to start an account, so you don't have to pay fees, then add. I used my "Christmas" account for my property taxes. Too bad, it won't cover them any more! But I still save. My bank rounds up the cents on my debit card purchases. Every penny helps.
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It's been three years since I had a Christmas Club account, but this year I decided that I really need to open an account. Even if I only save $10 a week, in 52 weeks I will have $520 saved. I like the account because I cannot take the money out and I have to wait until next October for the bank to mail me my check, I really lack discipline so this will help me from dipping into my savings. If you have never tried a Christmas Club account give it a try this year! (11/06/2006)
Credit unions offer these accounts more frequently than banks, and they offer other kinds of "installment savings" plans, too. Mine offers a vacation club. All are free. (10/18/2007)