The best time to start thinking about Christmas is in the summer. It takes time to save enough cash to ensure that you get the presents without going into debt. 

Although some households can still manage a debt-free Christmas in October or later, it usually takes about six months to save the $1,000 that people spend on gifts during the holidays. 

These tips to help you start a Christmas savings account will let you avoid credit card spending while getting to experience the joys of giving.

1. Use Automatic Transfers

Have your bank or credit union take a specific amount out of your direct deposit each time it comes and put it into a savings account. If you divide the amount by six, you’ll know what to save for the Christmas spending spree. It helps to earmark these funds to avoid spending them.

2. Join a Club

Some financial institutions offer a Christmas Club where the employer sets aside the funds on your behalf. The money comes back to you with an extra check around the holidays.

3. Don’t Claim Reimbursements

If you have an FSA or HSA with dependent-care structures, you’ll often need to apply for reimbursements. If you push through the paperwork near the end of the year, you’ll get some cash to use at the right time for the holidays. Check your HR policies before trying this option, and don’t turn in a year’s worth of receipts at once. 

4. Stockpile Gifts

When you find a gift on sale that someone would like, grab it. By saving it for the holidays, you’re using this principle in a different way.

How do you take care of your Christmas shopping each year?