Christmas is December 25th – EVERY YEAR!

Christmas Presents

I love Christmas because it give me a chance to decorate my house and take time off of work. This is also one of those times of the year that has historically pissed me off. As you know I used to work as a debt collector for a mortgage company. The most popular excuse for not paying your bills on time during December is Christmas. This irritates me for two reasons; 1.) Christmas isn’t really about presents and 2.) Christmas is the same day EVERY YEAR. Christmas doesn’t sneak up on you and all the sudden half way through November go BOO it’s Christmas. I understand Christmas is an expensive holiday for a lot of people but that is all the more reason to plan accordingly. There are a several ways you can prepare better for next year

Decide early on who you are going to be buying for. If you have a large extended family like I do it may make sense to draw names for gifts. My family has taken it a step further and agreed to only purchases gifts for the children. Set limits on how much you can spend on the gifts too.

Decide now how much you want to spend next year. I know it is a whole year away but this is where you start planning ahead. You need to know how much you want to spend on gifts so you will be properly prepared for next year. I would suggest putting a new line item in your budget for Christmas so you can monitor your progress as well as any spending you do throughout the year.

Once you have your goal amount in mind start setting aside the funds now so you will have the money to spend when it comes time next year. If you plan to start your shopping in November and want to have $600 to spend on gifts start setting aside $60 a month now. A good way to do this is with a  goal oriented savings account. You could open a sub-account with INGDirect or there is SmartyPig which offers goal oriented accounts where you can currently earn 2.01% on your deposits. SmartyPig is designed for saving for specific goals. You can setup a direct deposit to transfer the money to your goal oriented account and track your progress. Saving in this manner will allow you to have a worry free Christmas next year. One of the best features of the accounts is the “Cash Boost” you can receive by withdrawing your money as a gift card for one of their bonus retailers.

Start shopping now. Ok well maybe not right now wait until after Christmas when people are trying to unload all their unsold Christmas goodies. You can pick up some pretty good deals for gifts next year. This is also the best time of the year to pick up decorations for next year. They can be 50% off or more. The more you spread out your shopping and your saving the more likely you are to fund your Christmas with little to no impact on your regular finances.

Photo: (HermanTurnip)

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mrs. Micah December 16, 2009 at 8:48 am

When I saw your title, my first thought was….um yeah. But it’s a good point & a good post. Christmas can be an extra strain, but it’s something that happens every year and therefore something we can prepare for, unlike an illness.

I don’t envy you the old job of collecting for a mortgage company (though it’s better than collecting for companies like payday loans).

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2 Ashley December 16, 2009 at 4:34 pm

I’m a big fan of early shopping as it’s something my family has always done. Usually by July I’m completely done buying for most of my family. I think the biggest thing that people should avoid is buying gifts just because you need to get something for someone (and throwing out the rationale if it’s something they will actually use or not). That’s one of the biggest ways to waste money. To me, you may as well give someone cash. Although many people find cash to be impersonal, it’s at least something that the person can use.

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3 Kyle December 16, 2009 at 5:42 pm

I couldn’t agree more. There is no reason to buy something for someone if they aren’t going to actually use it or enjoy it. I know I don’t want anything I can’t/won’t use so I try to not get something just for the sake of having a gift for them. We really only buy for the kids in the family though these days so it isn’t so much of an issue.

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4 Gina December 17, 2009 at 8:52 am

Oh, thanks. I just spit out my tea when I read your post title. I’ve been acting like it snuck up on me this year. So not like me! I’ve known all year we’re having 9 guests (yes, sleeping here) and house projects to do and gifts to buy etc. etc. and yet I’ve been taken by surprise.

While I was well-prepared by setting aside $$ every month, I didn’t budget my time well. Now I’m wrapped up in helping out at school parties and such and feeling the strain of trying to do too much!

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