Make This a Cash Christmas
I know that it is only August when I am typing this, but really you can be preparing for Christmas all year long. You don't have to think about gifts all year and constantly buy things, but at least save money throughout the year so that you can have a cash Christmas. Can you imagine having the money to buy all your gifts ahead of time and not charging anything to your credit card this year? For many people this isn't an option because they don't plan ahead. Start saving now so that you don't have to use the credit card this year.
I save money all year long into a separate account to cover all holiday spending. It isn't much each pay period, but it adds up and by the end of the year we have $400 or so to spend on Christmas. I like having it saved ahead of time, but I also like being able to pick up a perfect gift I might happen upon throughout the year, without worrying about fitting it into our budget. I can use my cash for Christmas any time of the year. I am not actively looking for Christmas gifts all year long, but if I find the perfect something or if I find a great gift on clearance, I can buy it. It makes it easier come holiday time and I think it makes for better gifts.
If you haven't been saving money all year long, it is not too late to start saving now. You can set aside any amount from your paychecks specifically for Christmas or holiday spending. If you don't have extra try to think of a way to earn extra. Maybe picking up some overtime, or getting a second job. People that get paid every other week will have what is considered an "extra" paycheck twice a year (those two months where there are three paychecks). You could set aside a chunk from that to cover Christmas spending.
For the future, consider setting aside money each month all year long, or plan on setting aside part of a tax return if you get one. Many banks offer special savings accounts for holiday spending. They automatically transfer money from your checking into a holiday account each month. It is only available for withdrawal in October, just in time for holiday shopping.
You could also save your change, send in for rebates, start using coupons, etc all to go towards your holiday spending. Trust me; it will make for a much more enjoyable holiday time if you pay for your gifts with cash. And just think of the New Year without new debt to worry about. Thinking and planning for the holidays now will certainly be worth it.