Holiday Gift Fund: It’s Never too Early to Start

A couple of weeks ago Frugal Dad reminded us that there are less than 200 days to save money for gifts this holiday season. We have never had a holiday fund, but we have always been able to pay cash for any presents we buy for the season. This year I want that to be different. This year I want to have a holiday gift fund and accumulate that money with as little impact to our budget as possible.

First, let’s analyze our needs. Let’s go over my husband’s side of the family: we need to buy presents for his parents ($75), and his three nephews and niece ($25 each). We have an agreement we don’t gift the adults but the children. This same applies for my family, present for my mom, already bought for $4 at CVS this week, gift for 7 nephews and nieces ($140). Then gifts for husband’s coworkers 6 of them at $10 each=$60. Gifts for friends’ kids: $80, four of them 20 each. Oh wait! I forgot gifts for our kids: $50 each and just for the heck of it $50 for presents for each other. The grand total I need is: $630. Because spending during holiday season usually tends to become inflated, for good measure I will pad our fund an extra 15% and set my target at $720. This is what I need to save over the next twenty weeks. It comes out to $35 a week. That’s not chump change now that I think about it.

Now, how am I going to get there? First, any money I get back from rebates or surveys will get saved for this purpose. Right now I have $15 in rebate checks I need to cash. I have other $25 already cashed. But mainly what I will do is withdraw $35 in cash right after my husband gets paid. That way the money is already deducted from our budget and we need to adjust our spending accordingly. This is my archaic version of automatic savings.

I will be putting the money away in cash in an envelope. I also intend to purchase gifts from now until then to take advantage of sales and clearances. I will save those receipts so that at the end of this period I can see how my plan worked out.
How about you? can you draw a quick holiday gift budget in your head? Can you plan where the money is going to come from? How about start saving now to lessen the blow later?

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