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Survive This Economy: Start Saving Early For Holidays

(Peter Macdiarmid/ Getty Images)

(Peter Macdiarmid/ Getty Images)

Dorothy Tucker Dorothy Tucker
Dorothy Tucker has served as a reporter for CBS 2 Chicago since 1984....
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CHICAGO (CBS) – A lot of people are still taking down their holiday decorations, but one suburban family is already thinking about next Christmas and a new way they can save money.

The Wrights, a suburban couple with four children, has been getting help from CBS 2 to “Survive This Economy.”

CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker looked at how setting up a holiday fund now could save the Wrights a lot of Christmas cash later.

The Wrights took a pay-as-you-go approach this year when they went Christmas shopping. While the couple was able to cut a couple hundred dollars off their annual Christmas budget, next year they’d like to make life easier by only spending what they save.

“We set a goal and we kept it, but it would be a lot easier if you have it already saved; it’s there, so you know when you’re going to make that withdrawal, it’s already accounted for,” Marcus Wright said.

He said he plans to save $20 to $25 a week for the holiday fund.

Financial expert Cheryl Krueger has been helping the Wrights choose the best plan. They’ll contribute $20 a week, from February until the last week in November. That’s 44 weeks and $880, without interest.

The Wrights have several options

Option one would be a traditional Christmas fund at a local bank. Seaway Bank offers an interest rate of 0.1 percent, so the Wrights would save $880.36. But they couldn’t touch the money until November.

“The advantage of those would be that you have the discipline. You can’t make the withdrawals whenever you want,” Krueger said.

Option two would be joining a credit union, like Alliant. It offers an interest rate of 1 percent, giving the Wrights $883.65. But the Wrights would have to pay $10 to join the union, which means they’d have less than when they started.

Another option is internet banking. American Express offers a 0.9 percent interest rate, which would give the Wrights a total of $883.28. Marcus Wright said he liked that option the best.

“I like the whole online banking thing versus the traditional; and that is just, you know, from working in technology,” he said.

All the options offer direct deposit, which means you connect the Christmas fund to your regular savings account and have the money taken out every week.

The biggest advantage of those options is that putting money in the account is automatic and, before you know it, you’ve saved a bundle for Christmas.

So far, with the help of experts, the Wrights have saved $719.00 since mid-November.