Does Christmas seem to sneak up on you every year? You know that it is always December 25th….but for some reason you are never prepared! The decorating, the shopping and the money…..they all stress you out.
Maybe your list of family members that you think you need to buy for is longer than ever and you have NO idea what to buy for anyone. Or how that list got so long.
Or, maybe you didn’t save any money all year and now you are trying to figure out how to pay for all of those gifts?
When I grew up our pay checks were NOT automatically deposited into our checking account. (Imagine that!) I would take my check to the bank each week and deposit it into my checking account.
Attached to my checking account was a Christmas Club Account. I decided, in January, how much the bank should take out of my checking account and deposit into my Christmas Club Account. It could be $5, $10 or $50…the amount was up to me. That way I had enough money for gifts based on my own calculations. The Christmas Club was awesome for me because I never had to stress about where the money was coming from.
Unfortunately, the Christmas Club no longer exists. And, if you are not setting aside money every week, are you wondering how are you going to buy your presents? Are you wondering how you are going to squeeze extra money out of a budget that is already so tight it can barely breathe? Does the Christmas season totally stress you out?
Now, there are 2 ways to shop -
The 1st is with cash and the 2nd is with credit. This post is ALL about using cash. If you want to know, not only what I think about using a credit card, but what research says about using credit cards, check out ‘How Long Will it Take You to Pay Off Your Holiday Debt’. You will be totally surprised with the answer (spoiler alert - it is not good).
I don’t know where you are in the year. Is it January and you have almost 12 months to save…or is it October and you have less than 3 months? Either way - you need to save for Christmas! (Or anything else for that matter).
If you have 12 months -
Make a list of who you think you need to buy for.
Figure out how much you would like to spend per person. Look at what you spent last year as a starting point.
Don’t forget about the baking, wardrobe and decorations!
Add all that up, divide by 12, and that is the monthly $ amount you need to save each month.
If you are ok with that - then save!
What if that is way too much for you each month? You really only have 3 choices -
Decrease the $ per person
Eliminate the person
Eliminate new outfits or decorations
Or…cut back on other expenses (eating out, Starbucks, movies) and save money from those areas
If you have 3 months -
All of the above applies except you divide by 3. Does that savings amount seem impossible to you? Take a minute and read ’40 Ways to Save Money NOW’. There is a free printout for you as well. You might be able to squeeze out some extra pennies, dimes and maybe dollars!
Are you shaking your head right now and think I am crazy? How can you eliminate Aunt Sue? Or cousin Mike? Or, how can you NOT buy your kids all that expensive stuff on their lists? Or eliminate your mom, sister or brother?
You can, and you must, if you are to pay cash and not incur any debt this Christmas season.
Honesty is the best policy. Explain your situation. Tell your peeps that you are going to have a debt free Christmas and you need to get creative and eliminate. Most, if not all, will understand. And if they don’t understand take a deep breath and remind yourself that it is YOUR money and you will spend (or in this case NOT spend) in the best way possible.
Have a grab bag -
As our family got bigger (everyone is getting married ) 3 of my kids and my oldest grand daughter decided to have a grab bag every Christmas. I put 4 names in a hat and choose for them (I video it so they know I am not ‘cheating’ - haha) A $ limit is set - usually it’s $50. Money is pretty tight so this year they are setting the limit at $10! This will entail some creative shopping. Or maybe homemade gifts will appear under the tree this year. Since I am a crafter….I love homemade. (My husband has told my kids, from a young age, that he needs nothing. Draw him a picture and he is happy - even when the kids are 45!)
Here are a few creative Christmas gift ideas for you-
Shop the Dollar Stores - see if you can find something that you can decorate or turn into something else. Pinterest is a big help here.
Shop the sales. Look at the clearance racks and shelves.
Barter/trade with someone.
Make homemade -
Cookies - Buy a cookie tin at the Dollar Store
Soup - Put in a gallon mason jar (attach the recipe)
Banana bread or Apple bread or other bread - Wrap in foil and then with a ribbon or piece of Christmas fabric
Make a craft - Kids can make embroidery floss bracelets. Decorate Frames. Make bird houses out of popsicle sticks. Make coupon books.
Re-gift something you will never use or have duplicates of
And last, tell your kids that Santa has a budget too. Take them shopping and show them how much each item on their list costs. They probably have no idea since all their ideas come from friends and commercials. Help them write it down so they remember when you get home. Then set a limit (that is in YOUR budget) and tell them what that limit is. Help them establish their new and improved list with their #1, #2 and #3 choices…..that is within the budget. My kids, every year, ask me what Santa’s budget is. Some years it was tiny tiny and others pretty substantial. It just depended on our income for the year. And, even tho they are adults, they still ask me what Santa’s budget is!
You can do it! Don’t let Christmas stress you out. It is a magical time. A time to be enjoyed and cherished. Time to be debt free.
Jesus is the reason for the season and He says more about money than any other topic in the Bible. Make some changes and enjoy the season.
And, no matter what else you do, don’t use credit. The borrower is the servant to the lender. Be the boss….not the servant.
Start now….there is NO time like the present.
And, if you would like to know a bit more…I got ya covered.