Guess what? Christmas is in December this year. It comes at the same time every year and yet Dave still get calls to the radio show from desperate people who forgot to save for Christmas. This is not an emergency do not touch the emergency fund and don't you dare get a credit card! You're paying cash this Christmas.
If you're one of those planner types who saved a little out of every paycheck since January, you're in great shape. Congratulations! For the rest of us, there's still a little time. Sit down and figure out how much you can squeeze out of your regular budget to save between now and Christmas. There's no magic formula for deciding how much to save; it just depends on your income and how much you typically spend.
Now is the time to plan. The people in the mall have a plan to get your money you have to have a plan so you can keep some of it. When you know how much you have to spend on gifts, make a list of everyone you are buying for on the outside of an envelope and put a dollar amount by every name. The total amount you want to spend cannot exceed your budgeted amount. Put the amount of cash you are going to spend for the gifts in the envelope. Use the cash for every gift and when the cash is gone, stop spending. Remember if you overspend on Aunt Teresa, Uncle Joe won't get a gift. Stick to the budget!
When you're doing your normal written budget—the one you do every month before the month begins—remember there are added expenses during the holidays. If you're taking your famous green bean casserole to 15 Christmas potlucks, you'll have a larger grocery bill add to the budget. If for the past 10 years you have fallen off the ladder hanging lights on your house, budget for the emergency room visit. Sit down and think for a minute about the expenses you normally have during the season and plan for every one of them.
If you looked at your monthly budget and there is nothing left over for Christmas gifts, you are not a bad person. This is a season to get together with family and celebrate the birth of the Savior. Don't spend money you don't have and go further in debt. Stick to your budget and keep working on your Total Money Makeover. Down the road, when you have control of your money, you'll be able to buy the gifts you want to give.
Close your eyes and imagine what it would be like to enjoy the Christmas season without worrying about the January bills. What would it be like if Christmas didn't follow you into the New Year? Pay cash and stick to your budget, and you can avoid the January bills blues.
"For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it." —Luke 14:28.
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