It is officially September, which means the holidays are just around the corner. As a lover of all things Christmas, I truly believe it is never too early to start planning!
Are you stressed out by the mere thought of Christmas coming so soon? The shopping, the wrapping, the carbs – UGH! Maybe you forget to open that Christmas savings account back in January (like you promised yourself last year), or maybe you spent it on Summer vacation? Whoops. But don’t worry. Here are some ways to make this year’s Christmas season a little less stressful.
First, ask yourself, “how much can I spend?” Take a look at what you spent last year and use this as your starting point. Did you experience an increase in the number of family members to buy for this year due to a birth or marriage? Do you want to spend a little less this year, or do you have room to spend a little more? Also, don’t forget to add in the costs for food, gift wrapping supplies, etc. Write down the total amount you are shooting for, just a ballpark estimate.
Did you write down your estimated total? Good. Now, it’s time for some simple math! Take your estimated total and divide it by three. Since there are three months left until Christmas, this number is how much you should save each month to hit your Christmas goal. Is this number a little higher than expected? Take a look at your budget and find some places where you can make a cut, or find a way to make some extra money to fill in the gap.
Also, stay dedicated to your saving. This time of year there are many football parties and holiday get-togethers happening that may tempt you to dip into your Christmas fund, but don’t! Just remember how stress-free you want to be in December so you can focus on the more important things. Open a savings account, hide your Christmas stash (out of sight, out of mind), or whatever you have to do to avoid spending it.
Another helpful tip is to create a spending plan on the dollar amount you wish to spend per person on your list. This spending plan should help you stick to the budget when it’s time to go shopping.
If you follow these simple tips, your “December self” will be happy that your “September self” started planning when you did.
"Christmas is not an emergency. It doesn't sneak up on you. Lack of planning is not an excuse to use credit cards." - Dave Ramsey