We Need to Talk about Christmas. Now.
It’s Summer! You’re taking it easy, making plans with the family, and enjoying it while it lasts. You do some shopping, get the kids ready for a new school year, and before you know it, you’re carving a Turkey at Thanksgiving.
Your Summer was great, and your Fall was not bad either. But if only you knew what was lurking behind you. In the middle of fishing through your kid’s Halloween candy, you see it in the corner of your eye. You turn to scream, but it’s too late… your cries for help are smothered by carols and packed shopping malls…
Christmas is here, and you never saw it coming!
Okay, the surprise of Christmas isn’t THAT bad, but somehow you know the feeling I’m talking about. Even though the date never changes, the 25th comes out of nowhere and hits like a truck. And it doesn’t hit like a regular truck. Oh no, this truck is special! It’s a vehicle so diabolically designed that it aims straight for your wallet and occasionally your waistline. But what if you kept an eye out for the happy holidays hiding around the corner?
Get the most out of Christmas with these three questions:
1. What’s your budget?
To set a budget for Christmas, write down all the people you will be buying gifts for, and how much you plan to spend on each person. Let’s say, for easy math, you’ll be spending $100 for each person, and you are buying gifts for 10 people. That means your Christmas budget will be $1000. We will get back to this in question 3!
2. What gifts are you giving?
One of the reasons that Christmas gets so hectic is last-minute Christmas shopping. If you suffer from chronic procrastination, you should also write down what you plan to get each person. If you hear your kid (or spouse, no judgment here!) talk about the new Lego collection that’s come out, write it down! Then set a reasonable start and end date (like November 1st to December 1st) to completely cross out everything on your Christmas shopping list. This way, you’ll know when to search for that perfect plastic, whether it’s a gift card or some Lego pieces to step on in the dark.
3. How much time do you need?
Congratulations! You made your budget and your list of presents! On your first shopping day, you roll up to the counter with a full cart and realize your pockets look much different. You have a budget, you have a list, but you forgot to have the money! So let’s rewind to the present (pun intended) and do this differently. In order to have the money for shopping time, you need a sinking fund. A sinking fund is a bunch of money you’ve put away to spend later. Whether it’s Christmas, a vacation, or car maintenance, you’re ensuring that your expenses are covered by using a sinking fund.
Let’s say, for simple math, you have 4 months to build up your $1000 Christmas sinking fund. You would then save $250 every month until your deadline. In doing so, when you do your last-minute Christmas shopping because you skipped step 2, you’ll have enough to buy everyone Christmas presents without dipping into your other savings or going into debt! Just remember, the more time you give yourself to save, the less you need to save per month.
What Christmas can be like this year…
It’s time to refine your plan to dodge the Christmas truck now. Do not wait! While everyone else is stuck in the holiday rush, you’ll be relaxing and celebrating Jesus’ birth with your loved ones. As nice as the gifts are, what really matters are the people you are giving them to. The more time you give yourself to prepare, the more time you can spend focusing on them instead of on the gifts!
Got a question about saving or need feedback on your Christmas plan? Leave a comment or get in touch with us here.