Saving for Christmas
Saving for Christmas, uh. Christmas never changes; it’s every year on December 25. I know crazy right! Yet, we act surprised as if it sneaks upon us. We find ourselves never prepared and scrounging for money, prioritizing gift lists and coming to the conclusion we can’t buy everyone “the gift” we wanted for them.
I was once like you and thought next year would be different. Set aside a few dollars each month and in 12 months – poof, magic – I have money for gifts!
Yet, our priorities shift throughout the year and we forget to save that money. This leads to stress and pressure to spend money you don’t have. Instead of running up debt on a credit card, let’s plan – ahead.
There’s a simple trick and secret to doing it without thinking — technology. I use automation to take out the “remembering” of things I want to save for. These things include planned vacations, holidays and birthdays. I even use it to start storing away money now for future endeavors in five to ten years. For me, this includes future business ideas and purchases.
You might think I am crazy planning that far ahead, but that’s why I want to become a financial planner because I enjoy it. But you aren’t like me, I get it.
So, how do you save for Christmas, a birthday, or vacation using automation? Here is a list of technologies that make saving thoughtless and easy. Saving for Christmas has never been easier.
A high-yield savings account
Now, this account should be separate from your normal checking and savings account. Preferably at another institution. Why? If saving was easy, I wouldn’t be writing this article but it isn’t. It’s linked to our money behaviors. So, back to what I was saying.
Having the money in a separate account makes it easier to ignore. Out of sight, out of mind.
So, what’s the trick and secret to the high-yield savings account (HYSA)? Set automatic deposits from your current checking or savings account into the HYSA. The automatic deposits could be daily, weekly, monthly, etc.
It eliminates the need to remember to save when technology does it for you on a schedule you set. I recommend scheduling the deposits around the time you receive your paycheck to ensure you have the funds to transfer. For servicemembers, this would be the first and fifteen of each month.
Now, what does a HYSA have as opposed to a normal savings account? A high-yield savings account offers higher interest rates on your money parked in the account. For the cash that is going to be sitting there for a year, it’s nice earning something in return.
Here are some of the most popular HYSA options:
- American Express National Bank Personal Savings
- Goldman Sachs Bank USA Online Savings
- Barclays Online Savings Account
One major benefit of using a HYSA is the funds are always liquid. If an emergency occurs, you can easily withdraw the funds. Also, note that due to the recent fed rate cuts, the interest rates have dropped significantly but still higher than your average savings accounts.
Lock your money into a Certificate of Deposit
If you are your own worst enemy when it comes to saving money, a certificate of deposit (CD) might be your best option. These are federally insured savings accounts that have a fixed interest rate and withdrawal date, known as the maturity date.
In essence, these accounts lock your money away and you’re penalized if you withdraw early. Institutions offer a variety of CDs with different maturity dates ranging from six months to five years. The most popular is the twelve-month CD. The interest rate is usually tied to the length of the term – the longer the term, the higher the interest rate. On average, a one-year CD averages a 2.0% interest rate.
I would look at institutions that offer CD auto-deposits so you can continue to contribute to it throughout the year instead of a lump sum initially. Also, I would recommend that the maturity date ends early November so you can take advantage of Black Friday deals.
Trim Financial App
Trim will automatically organize all of your recurring monthly charges—and help you cancel the ones you don’t need. You can set it to text you spending alerts, balances and how much you spent on Uber last month! This is just one benefit of the app that will save you money for next Christmas.
Also, they have the Simple Savings program within the app. Trim Simple Savings is an automated savings account that provides a 1.5% annual reward on your balance. Simple Savings allows you to set it and forget it with automated weekly transfers of an amount specified by you from your selected checking account.
Crypto high-yield savings account
If you currently hold cryptocurrency or plan to diversify your holdings with crypto – institutions are offering HYSA for crypto. Some of the most popular are Coinbase and BlockFi.
Coinbase you can earn 1.25% APY rewards on every USD Coin (USDC). USD Coin is a stablecoin, which offers price stability by being backed by a reserve asset. USD Coin maintains its stable price because you can always redeem one USD Coin for one US dollar.
It has both the functional benefits of crypto — you can instantly send it anywhere for free and hold it without a financial intermediary — along with the stability that the US dollar backing provides.
Coinbase has an auto-deposit and auto-buy option when you transfer funds into the account from your bank account. If you’re looking for higher interest rates, BlockFi offers 6.2% APY for Bitcoin holdings.
The BlockFi Interest Account (BIA) is an interest-bearing account, which provides 6.2% – 8.6% APY. But, limited to Bitcoin, Ether, and Gemini Dollar (GUSD) on their platform.
Wrap it up
Saving for Christmas next year will be easy. If you didn’t save that much this year, make next year different with the help of automation. Set it and forget it. Take the thinking out of saving and you’ll find it thoughtless and rewarding! That awesome Lego set you wanted to get your nephew will be a breeze.
All the options I provided are free, it just takes action on your part to open an account and create automatic deposits.