Tired of being broke at Christmas? Always scrambling to find those last few gifts and being down to your last $50? Solve all (or at least some of) your problems with a Christmas Club account! Okay, okay, I know we all have heard about that elusive thing called a “Christmas budget.” You scrimp, you save, you try to do a little shopping here and there throughout the year. Suddenly, it’s December 20th and you’re down to that last paycheck before Christmas—you’re praying that you can find the right gifts for at least the major players of your family. Now if you’re a normal everyday saver, you can probably get away with saving on your own in your sock drawer or your own bank account. However, and I do express my sorrow to say, there are a lot of us middle-class people who are living paycheck to paycheck. We really do need some sort of miracle when it comes to trying to save enough money to get us through the most stressful and expensive time of year.

Check with your employer

Try going to your personnel or payroll department and find out if your company offers a Christmas Club. If they’re affiliated with a bank or a credit union of some sort, they may offer that option, along with other options like car loans, mortgages or even Vacation Clubs as well. I’m fortunate enough to work in a company that does offer a Christmas Club with an accredited credit union. You sign up then designate any amount of money to be taken from your check directly on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis. The amount is of your own choosing, and the minimums are usually very reasonable (mine is $10). If you sign up early enough in the calendar year, you may have a nice chunk of change come payday.

Get your check early

The other nice thing about a Christmas Club account is that most clubs will cut their checks early enough in the season so that you get them before the hoards of people start coming to the mall. My credit union sends checks out the first week of October, and when I opened my check last year, I was like a giddy school boy. There’s no rule that says you have to do your Christmas shopping when there’s a Christmas tree in the mall, Santa Claus in center court, or twinkling lights and cranberry swags hanging over the hallways. I took my check and spent it over the course of a week or two in several stores, malls and kiosks—all in the month of October! I wasn’t overheated, I wasn’t crowded, and I wasn’t begging for St. Anthony to come take me out of my misery in the middle of crying children, screaming mothers, frantic dads or misbehaving siblings.

Sit back and be merry

I will say this: The best thing of all was probably the fact that after Thanksgiving and throughout the December month, most of my family and friends were frantic over doing their shopping. They were asking me if I had done mine, and I would just say, “Yeah…for the most part,” feigning some story about needing to grab a few last minute things, or that I was going to wait until after the holidays to get those little side-gifts. In actuality, I was completely done with my shopping and had some money left over! I didn’t have anything to get last minute, and on December 23rd when I would normally have been running like Usain Bolt to the mall and been crazily searching for that perfect present for Mom, I was quietly enjoying the Christmas-like atmosphere without having to be PART of the Christmas atmosphere out there in WestFarms mall!

Create your own Christmas Club account

So if you’re able to do a Christmas Club account through your job, great. If your job doesn’t offer it, go get your own bank account! There are certain banks out there, like TD Bank, who offer a savings account much like a Christmas Club account. I know because I have one. You put in as much as you want—whenever, no pressure, no fees. Whatever is in your account come October, they cut you a check for the amount. Do with it what you will. If you want to spend it, do it. If you want to re-invest it, then you just re-deposit the check. Look for certain online banks that will also offer the same privelages. That way, next year you can be ahead of the game. You can’t even imagine the peace of mind you get from having all your shopping done before they’ve even put one iota of garland over the mall sign.
This is a guest post by Daniel from Connecticut.

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