Last week, I talked about going back to school and now this week I’m going to talk about Christmas. Yes, you read that correctly. I said Christmas. Did you know that the average family spends over $1,000 on gifts for Christmas? This does not even include parties, food, travel, and lodging. If you aren’t careful, you can easily be paying for Christmas several months into the new year.  

But you, you ARE careful, aren’t you? 

I bet you… 

  • Preplan exactly which family members and friends will receive a gift from you and/or your family members.  
  • Preplan exactly how much you want to spend on those gifts. 
  • Remember there will be a work party and an ornament exchange along with a potluck. 
  • Assume there will be a church gathering and you will play the elephant game which will require a gift or two. 
  • Remember that your kids will need a gift for their teacher and will need to bring presents and treats for the class party. 
  • Want to give a gift to your mail person or your hairstylist. 
  • Want to send Christmas greetings to people far and wide and will need to put stamps on them. 
  • Knowing that your Christmas was going to cost you about $1,500, you started saving $125 a month back in January! 

I bet you did all those things, didn’t you? Well, if you didn’t, it’s time to start thinking about them now.

Don’t let December come without a plan, a budget, and money in hand.  

Whether you’ve already been saving, or you just realized wow! Christmas is 20 Sundays away! Here are a few things to consider for you to make it through without losing your status on the “nice” list! 

  • Draw names at work, at church, and even with your extended family! 
  • Agree to cap the value of the gifts that are exchanged. 
  • If you’re crafty, make a gift for your neighbor. 
  • Like my mom… bake a tin of Christmas cookies to give to your favorite bank tellers! 
  • If you belong to Costco or Sam’s, you can purchase gift cards at less than face value which is an excellent way to save a little money and help ensure the gift is truly appreciated! Who doesn’t like a gift card to a restaurant, or to the movies, or PetSmart if they have pets? If you don’t belong to those stores… gift cards are still a safe bet!

The bottom line is that Christmas should be joyful. It’s time to celebrate the gift that is the savior of the world. What Christmas is not, is a time to fall into debt and stress. So, get busy making your list and checking it twice, because just like every year before, Christmas will be here on December 25th and without a bit of planning and saving, the bill will follow soon after.