Yep, you guessed it. Christmas is in December this year. If you’re like a lot of people in America, you’re just now realizing this and you’re officially in panic mode. Time to reach for the credit cards to cover your lack of planning. Well, it’s a little late in the game to prepare at this point. But there are some things you can do so you don’t have this problem next year.
It starts with planning ahead. Really. It’s that simple. Start planning at the beginning of the year and spell out on paper who you’re going to give gifts to. Right next to their name(s) write down how much you plan to spend on them. Underneath the list of names write down all the Christmas parties, decorations, cards, postage, and other miscellaneous stuff you’ll be spending money on for next Christmas. That’s right – plan out everything you’re going to spend money on. I know it sounds awfully thorough and detailed, but you’re going to spend money on those things, so why not be realistic and plan for it?
Once you have your list complete you can add up the total expenses for next Christmas. Be careful though. Looking at the total can give you a little bit of sticker shock if you’ve never added it all up before. If you don’t like the total, change it now while you have the time. When you decide on a Christmas spending amount you’re comfortable with, divide that number by 12. This is how much you need to set aside each month in order to pay cash for Christmas and not have the traditional panic attack.
Now the trick is to actually stick to that amount. You can’t just write it down and expect it to happen. You have to physically set aside the money each month in a place where you won’t spend it. I personally prefer a cash envelope in my cupboard, but if you insist on using a debit or checking account, you might want to open a separate account specifically for Christmas spending. That way you won’t be as tempted to spend it all on impulses throughout the year.
And that’s it. It’s really that easy to plan ahead and save up money for Christmas expenses. There should be absolutely no surprises. I think you already know when the next Christmas is coming. There’s no excuse to not be prepared.