The holidays always seem to be the time I realize that my skill of saving money sucks!  Then I panic and wonder if I'll be able to pay bills, get food and take care of the extra spending for presents, baking, decorations and other holiday costs.  My mom use to have a Christmas Club account, not sure if banks and financial institutions still offer that, but this easy saving chart can certain give you some direction so you have money to spend next holiday season.  Consider doing it and saving with me!

A Christmas Club account isn't actual a club you'd belong to at all.  It was an account at the bank that you faithfully put $10 to $20 a week into and couldn't touch until the month of December.  My family had one back in the 70's, did yours?

I know we all wish we could save money but it takes some guidance, even a chart would help.  One that would tell us how much to put away and keep track of our total.  The incentive will grow as the total increases.  I found exactly what I need with this great chart at savingabuck with Sandra and Debbie and thought we could save money together, you know....encourage each other to stick to it!

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But there are few financial perks to be gained from Christmas clubs: The return on these accounts is negligible, and you usually cannot take the money out until the start of the holiday season, usually around Nov. 1.

The point, of course, is not to make a killing on compound interest, but to safeguard your money -- from yourself -- so you have enough funds to spend for gifts or even travel during the holidays. And it helps prevent a pile of credit card debt in January.

Christmas clubs still alive at credit unions

While some banks still offer Christmas club accounts, credit unions, by far, are still the champions of this type of savings vehicle. According to the Credit Union National Association, or CUNA, nearly 72 percent of credit unions run Christmas clubs, and consumer interest in these clubs is holding steady.

"These kinds of accounts, small as they may be, are important because they encourage saving; this small step could lead to better saving habits," says Patrick Keefe, spokesman for CUNA.

At TruStone Financial Federal Credit Union in Plymouth, Minn., there's been a slight uptick in its "Holiday Helper" account this year, says Katie Grindeland, marketing manager for the credit union.

"Now, I must confess, this number is up by less than 1 percent (over last year) but an increase nonetheless," she says. Balances are slightly down over last year.

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