I'm not sure what will be wrapped under the Christmas tree this year, but I know half the battle is already won since we have the money. We started saving in January for Christmas.
Our Christmas fund isn't part of our monthly budget, but we came up with different ways to contribute to the Christmas jar without sacrificing our retirement savings. According to a report by American Research Group, last year shoppers planned to spend an average of $646 on holiday gifts. The prior year, Americans spent $658.
We decided to set our Christmas savings goal at about $650 since we have a family of four. None of us are lacking when it comes to typical big-ticket items for Christmas such as laptops, cellular phones and flat screen televisions.
How times have changed
My family has spent less and less money on Christmas every year. According to researchers, Americans in 2001, on average, spent a whopping $1,052 on holiday gifts. That compares to spending during the recession when most people struggled just to put food on the table. In 2009, the average American spent only $417 on holiday gifts. In 2010, spending recovered by 58 percent as consumers spent $658 on average. I'm not sure if we will ever go back to blowing more than a thousand a year on the holidays.
Retailers are optimistic
Retailers must be optimistic about consumers this year. Macy's for example, said they plan to hire 80,000 temporary holiday workers, according to an article by the Associated Press. That's a 2.5 percent increase compared to last year. Most retailers ramp up their hiring in October.
Money in our Christmas jar
Starting in January, we started saving all of our extra change into the Christmas jar. Based on past experience, I know pennies and dimes don't add up to a Merry Christmas. This year, we started adding our extra cash to the jar. Whenever we had money leftover from our weekly "adult allowance" and "entertainment/gifts" funds, we added the cash to the Christmas jar. Since the jar was stuffed, I decided to count out the money. Even though Christmas isn't here yet, we have $650 saved.
In search of deals
Now that we have our Christmas money, we are searching for sales on the Internet. I plan to hit the stores on Black Friday. Over the years, we have developed our Black Friday plan of attack, which involves making a checklist, planning all-nighters and working as a team to secure the merchandise at wildly discounted prices.
With more than enough money in my pocket, I'm looking forward to a debt-free Christmas. I'll be doing my part to bring back the holiday cheer to the struggling economy.
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More from this contributor:
- Holidays & Celebrations
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