It’s that time of year — time to start your holiday savings.
It may sound too soon: The holiday season just ended. You haven’t even paid off this last holiday season yet, so how are you supposed to start saving for next December? This is actually the best time to start planning, instead of waiting until the last minute.
How to start saving
I adopt the envelope system to manage holiday saving: one for holiday food, one for family presents and one for Christmas cards and stamps. Put a little bit of money into each envelope during each pay period and watch your savings pile up. (Here are some more ways to use the envelope system.)
Being this detailed with money doesn’t work for everyone, but I enjoy the security of knowing that I saved ahead for almost all of my holiday expenses.
Another advantage to saving throughout the year? On top of having the extra money available in December, this method allows me to buy gifts ahead of time.
If I see a great sale or a clearance item that I know someone on my list will love, I can go ahead and pick it up because I have the money in my envelope already. This alone has made it possible for me to buy some very nice presents over the years. (If you find yourself running low on cash, check out this guide to quickly building a holiday gift fund.)
By putting a small amount of money into each of these holiday envelopes every pay period throughout the year, I can relax and enjoy the season when December rolls around because I don’t have to worry about the financial aspect — I know I’m covered. Ready to start saving yourself? You can tailor your savings methods to suit you. For instance, if putting cash away in envelope sounds too old school, try a tracking app.
Being on a tight budget doesn’t mean you have to be a Scrooge during the holidays. It just means that you have to start planning and saving in January.
If you are still worried about the holidays burning your budget, check out this list of 50 ways to make the holidays more affordable.
Additional reporting by Kelly Meehan Brown
This article originally appeared on CentSai.