Make This a Cash Christmas
I know that it is only August when I am typing this, but imagine having a Christmas that was paid for before Christmas. Imagine a January with no lingering credit card bills. Life becomes much less stressful at the holidays when you don't have to worry about how to pay for presents. You don't have to think about gifts all year and constantly buy things, but saving money throughout the year will make for a much nicer holiday season. Start saving now so that you don't have to use your credit card this year.
There are many ways you can save money all year for holiday shopping. The very first year I attempted this I randomly stashed $1 bills in a shoebox. In December I opened it up and had $167 saved. That was the start of my paying cash for Christmas. Now 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 $600 or so to spend on Christmas.
There are a couple of benefits to saving money all year just for Christmas. First I like having it saved ahead of time because I know I have money set aside for something that is important to me. Second I 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.
You could save your change (I just cashed in my 6 months of change and had over $60), send in for rebates, use Swagbucks or iBotta to earn free gift cards, earn points on Recyclebank to get free magazine subscriptions for gifts, start using coupons, etc. Plan to use all of that money to go towards your holiday 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. 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.