Now that the shopping madness is over, the gifts have all been torn into and the dust is settling on all the Christmas Frenzy and we look ahead with dread at putting ALL THIS CHRISTMAS STUFF AWAY, let’s make a pledge here and now to not go into debt next Christmas!
Part of those New Year’s Resolutions that I am re-affirming is to revisit my budgeting/spending/debt pay-down and a major one for me is Christmas. It is so easy to lose control of your finances during Christmastime and justify just about anything. “Oh, I’ll pay it off later.”
But I have a little secret for you… I already made that pledge, a year ago, and IT WORKED!
One year ago I saved all my receipts from my shopping endeavors and when it was all said and done I tallied it up (and after recovering from a small stroke) I vowed to never go into a Christmas season again without planning my budget out ahead of time.
I wanted a way to be able to buy my family thoughtful gifts without using credit cards or breaking the bank and then spending the following 3-6 months guilt-ridden as I paid my monthly credit card bills.
So, here’s my steps to a debt-free Christmas if you are willing to take the pledge with me:
If you kept your reciepts gather them up or try to write them down from memory. You can also get each line item off of your bank statement/credit card statement that you spent on Christmas this year. Include family, neighbor and coworker gifts as well as wrapping paper and postage. I found a few items I had missed from last year so it is a great time to re-adjust my plan.
Be brave, it take’s alot to face that number and realize how much you actually did spend but it’s good for us to do this. Instead of seeing $20 go here, $15 go there, we can see how much this really does add up to be in total. This is where my spreadsheet comes in handy. It helps me set an amount and as I purchase items I add them to the sheet and you can SEE wether or not you are on target.
Divide that total by 26 – the number of paychecks in a year.
That is how much you should put away each paycheck in an envelope or seperate savings account and you will have this IN CASH by next Christmas. Oh, the freedom!
Say you spent $910 on everything this year: $910/26 = $35 That’s it!!
$35 a paycheck squirreled away and you will have $910 to spend on your loved ones next Christmas and the best thing is it is guilt free! You still have to reign yourself in and not go bonkers just because you have the cash-cushion. You still need to figure out a budget that you will spend on each family member or group and stick to it. This year now I know I have to readjust what I am putting away because there was some items that I didn’t have accounted for last year so I went a little over, but it is okay. As with all goals it is not necessary to focus on what didn’t work, but what DID work and learn from what didn’t.
And have some fun with it! If you use the envelope system get creative with your envelope and watch it grow every month. Then in a year you will have one less stress for the Holiday season and can spend more time living the true meaning of Christmas.
Here are some fun ideas for those that want to add the money to a Christmas Cash envelope:
Fun printable Christmas Cash envelope
For you sewers a fabric envelope
So get started today and here’s to a Happy Debt-Free Holidays and Happy Savings for years to come!!