Frugal Friday: Hands-off Saving for Christmas

Saving for Christmas….it seems like every year Christmas comes faster and faster. People always told me that as the kids grow so do their wants. While our girls are pretty simple kids as they get older it really is true that their wants are just more expensive. A 15$ doll baby just doesn’t work anymore.  The money has to come from somewhere, right?  Too often for folks, that somewhere ends up on credit cards, needing to be paid off in the beginning of the next year, or out of paychecks or savings.  If the money will come from somewhere why not make it a hands-off somewhere and let the money come to you? Why not pay it forward to yourself, and have a paid-for, cash only Christmas, rather than pay it backwards and pay interest, taking money out of next year’s cash flow anyway?

There are many things to do to cut down on the Christmas Cash impact. Many banks have Christmas Clubs to add to weekly. Setting money aside in envelopes during the year (and being careful to NOT dip into it) helps. While I’ll be the first person to tell you how much I LOVE the Christmas holiday shopping rush, bumping shoulders with the other shoppers, listening to Christmas music and just spending time in the hubbub of Christmas, there’s a lot of be said about starting early, buying one present this week, another next week, still another the week after.

Remembering our own budget crackdown goals its easy to be even more intentional with our choices about how, where and when we spend our money. Saving ahead for Christmas just makes sense.

Want a hands-off savings for Christmas? Save your coins. In a bucket. In a jar. In a pitcher. In a bowl. In an old coffee can. Doesn’t matter, just save them. Even the pennies.

We keep a 5 gallon water jug next to the washing machine for dropping in those pants pockets finds. A quarter here, a quarter there…two pennies, a dime. Whatever amount we find, goes in the bucket. We also keep a small green glass chicken next to the kitchen sink, adding to it until it’s full and will be added to the water jug. It’s also a great place for hunting for quarters when you’re 12 and are going roller skating with your friends. 🙂

We wanted to get our coin collection changed into dollars the other week to add to our envelope system, but our bank doesn’t provide this service and I didn’t want to spend the 8-10% fee by using the CoinStar machine at the grocery store. What to do? The entire bucket wasn’t filled, but maybe a 1/4 -1/3 of it, but it was going to be a decent amount, we knew. We also gathered any random coins we found in wallets, cars, couches and the green chicken.

We let the coins sit for a couple of weeks until I could do some research on how to best use these coins.  Well, it turns out that if you use the CoinStar machine for e-gift cards you DON’T pay any kind of fee. I scoped out what gift cards were available for purchase before making a final decision. If the best option was a gift card to Uncle Jimmy’s Creek Side Hot Dog World and Spa we would have kept on saving those coins. But, thankfully, CoinStar has some good options for gift cards.  We do a fair amount of ordering from Amazon-mostly books-and since Amazon is one of the options at CoinStar we went with it.

After depositing our coins, and letting the machine do it’s work we ended up with just over $117 in an e-gift card for Amazon, with no expiration date, and we didn’t pay any kind of fee.This card went right into our savings envelope for Christmas and will come in handy for those online orders mid-November.

Saving coins is an easy, frugal way to save money without much work or much thinking, it adds up over time and is money hardly noticed missing.

Any suggestions of how you save for Christmas? Leave them in the comments?

One comment

  1. We save in a big bottle too.. usually for vacation spending money. Wishing we had realized that about coinstar, we just went to cash in our coins and couldn’t. The bank said they would take the coins if they were wrapped. My daughter loves counting coins, so she counted and wrapped them all.


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