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The gift of time: Plan now to save money at Christmas

Woman sitting at a table in a sunny room, looking at her phone with a mug nearby

With more than 20 weeks until Christmas, perhaps you haven’t made a list, much less checked it twice. But if you want to avoid overspending during the holidays, now’s a good time to get started.

The truth is consumers like to shop for gifts:

  • 62% of shoppers said they spent more at Christmas in 2020 than in 2019.
  • 31% of shoppers said they would go into debt approaching the holidays.
  • Almost 80% of shoppers leave their holiday shopping to the last minute, making them susceptible to impulse purchases and overspending.

What can you do to avoid the trend? Give yourself this gift of time to create a holiday strategy that works for you. First, consider your goal. You may choose to plan ahead out of necessity to avoid debt or a desire to manage spending. Maybe you hope to simplify this year or focus more intentionally on the true meaning of the season. It’s easy to get swept up in holiday cheer and lose track of your goal. Adopting a strategy now could empower you to hold yourself accountable in December.

13 holiday saving ideas that may ring a bell with you

1. Challenge yourself to save money every week until Christmas. Making routine transfers (or use an automatic transfer feature from your bank) from spending accounts to a savings account designated for future shopping can really add up.  

2. Will your holiday this year include travel? Making plans now before the rush could save on airfare or housing costs—and give you time to pay for plane tickets before the trip.

3. Gift cards top the wish list of 59% of consumers. If that includes your loved ones, consider spreading those purchases over several paychecks in the coming months.

4. If you want to simplify your celebrations, start those conversations with your loved ones now. Getting buy-in over time may minimize the surprise when fewer gifts are under the tree.

5. To reduce the stress of the season, what holiday preparations can you do in advance? Use a calendar app to set some deadlines. For example, consider ordering Christmas cards in October and addressing envelopes ahead of time.

6. Another way to minimize stress is to complete your online shopping early. Supply-chain and shipping delays in 2020 made anxious gift givers impatient as the holidays approached—and may have sent them to the store for alternative gifts.

7. In lieu of exchanging gifts, is there a holiday event, concert or theater performance your family can attend together? Make the shared experience a cost-saving memory.

8. Ask your loved ones for gift ideas early and often. That way you can be on the lookout for sales in the months leading up to the traditional shopping season that begins with Black Friday after Thanksgiving.

9. If you’re crafty or creative, take advantage of the time you have now to gather supplies and make one-of-a-kind gifts.

10. Use a round-up tool on your mobile banking app or find another savings app that works for you. Thrivent Credit Union offers the round-up perk with its debit card linked to your account.

11. Consider shopping locally whenever possible to support small businesses where you live.

12. If existing credit card debt or other obligations are hindering your cash flow, find a way to make bigger payments now. Is a part-time job feasible with your schedule? Can you hold a yard sale? Get the kids involved with a summertime lemonade stand.

13. Plan now to spread generosity in your community by organizing an adopt-a-family gift drive or collecting donations for a pet rescue. Spreading joy outside your home is a meaningful way to shift the focus away from the latest toy or trendiest gift.

The thing about reducing holiday spending is that you can use the money saved for other priorities. Give yourself a gift by increasing the amount you’re saving for retirement. Or you could direct your savings toward protecting your loved ones with life insurance.

Connect with a Thrivent financial advisor to discuss ways to help achieve your goals.

Deposit and lending services are offered by Thrivent Credit Union, the marketing name for Thrivent Federal Credit Union, a member-owned not-for-profit financial cooperative that is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration and doing business in accordance with the Federal Fair Lending Laws. Insurance, securities, investment advisory and trust and investment management accounts and services offered by Thrivent, the marketing name for Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, or its affiliates are not deposits or obligations of Thrivent Federal Credit Union, are not guaranteed by Thrivent Federal Credit Union or any bank, are not insured by the NCUA, FDIC or any other federal government agency, and involve investment risk, including possible loss of the principal amount invested.

Must qualify for membership in TCU.