create your savings plan for Christmas

September Challenge: Jump-Start Your Christmas Savings

Christmas is right around the corner!

Well, almost.

The holiday shopping season is still three months away, but September is the perfect time to decide how much you want to spend on gifts and festivities this year. The sooner you make a Christmas budget and start saving up for all those expenses, the sooner you’ll crush any shopping-season stress.

That’s why this September challenge is all about keeping your Christmas self happy, healthy and debt-free. Here are three simple steps you can take to create the Christmas budget you want this year.

1. Determine how much you can spend. Remember, this is your ideal number. You can always make changes later if you don’t quite hit your goal, so don’t feel like the number is set in stone as soon as you pick it. If you don’t know where to start, take a look at how much you spent last year. Are you comfortable with that amount? Want to spend a little more? A little less? Write it down.

2. Divide your total by three. Take your total from step one (let’s say you decided on $750) and divide it by the number of months until Christmas. If you start now, you have about three months. That means you should set aside $250 each month. And if December rolls around and you haven’t reached your goal amount, you can rearrange your budget accordingly!

3. Create a Christmas budget category. When you have a dedicated Christmas category and assign $250 to it, you know not to spend that money on anything else. It’s great accountability when other holiday expenses pop up, like Halloween candy or the Thanksgiving turkey. Keep putting money in your Christmas budget and you’ll have a nice pile of cash sitting in your account come shopping time.

That’s all there is to it! Once you’ve completed these three steps, you’ve completed the September challenge. Now it’s just a matter of stress-free shopping and sticking to the budget. Don’t lose focus, keep your eyes on the prize, and this could be the least stressful Christmas ever.

Spread the word! Challenge your friends and family to participate on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by tagging EveryDollar in your post and using #EveryDollarChristmasList.

Happy holidays . . . and happy budgeting!