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Start Saving Now to Spread Christmas Cheer, Avoid Being a Scrooge

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - WHNT NEWS 19 is thinking ahead to help you save money year-round, especially around the holidays.

As of today, Christmas is less than four months away.  It's never too soon to come up with a strategy to keep from having to be a "scrooge" during the holidays.

Already, tips are popping up everywhere online explaining how and why you should start saving for Christmas now!  In fact, it's the secret to having some jingle in your pockets, after the jingle bells.

"Buy as much as you can now in preparation," said Michele Mason, President of the North Alabama Better Business Bureau.  She said this time of year--following the "back to school" season and before "the holiday season"--is the perfect time to shop for Christmas presents.

"Labor Day coming up, there's always great sales, so rather than waiting until the last minute and taking the risk that the item you want may be sold out, it's a great idea to look for it now at a great price and just hold onto it," said Mason.

But she warns to make sure it's a gift you won't want to return, since refund policies may run out before you ever give the gift.

Other savvy planners are already working on accumulating Christmas cash, so they can avoid having to charge gifts to a credit card and drag out payment for weeks or even months after the holidays.

Someone on Pinterest pinned this tip:  buy a gift card every paycheck or once a month and use them for Christmas shopping.  Try to add funds to the cards as you shop to build up a nice amount of Christmas cash.

"More businesses are now using specials to attract buying by offering you a gift card when you spend an x amount of money, you'll get additional money," said Mason.

Consider setting up a large "change jar" and throw in your loose change each night.  Check with your bank or credit union to see if they offer a 'Christmas Club' account.  That would allow you to keep money in a short-term account and earn some interest on it.

An "oldie but a goodie" idea:  pick one indulgence... such as the gourmet coffee you have to have each day.. and put that money into your change jar.

With some clever checkbook maneuvering--rounding up when you pay bills--you can pocket the difference in the actual price for later.

For holiday food, if you're comfortable with international business then consider buying a 'hamper of food' from a European country.  They allow you to pay for the "hampers" over 48 weeks and they ship worldwide.

If you like to shop online, sign up for

It's a search engine that gives you points for using it and for shopping online at participating stores, such as Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Walgreens, Kmart and Amazon.

You can redeem those points later for gifts from various stores.