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Christmas in January? You know what I’m talking about – Christmas in February, March, April…. the gift that keeps on giving, through credit card debt.
I don’t know about you, but Christmas is by far my favorite holiday. There is just something about the nostalgia of the decorated houses, the smell of cookies, the presents, and all the food that brings me back to my childhood. I can’t help but be giddy around Christmastime which usually ends with me buying more than I should.
I have such fond memories of Christmas and when I am in a store filled with toys, I have trouble controlling my spending habits. I want everyone else to experience that Christmas spirit so I usually splurge and buy things I know will make others happy. I want my kids to have great memories of Christmas which results in them being showered with so many toys they hardly ever play with half of them.
In fact, as I write this, my wife is going through my daughter’s room getting rid of all the toys and junk she doesn’t play with anymore. Our house is so cluttered with things that rarely if ever get used – tell me I’m not alone in this?
These spending habits around Christmas have a lasting impact into the next year with credit card debt. Those gifts just keep on giving, in the form of monthly bills and statements. Quite a few years ago, my wife and I decided to stop the blind Christmas buying and to start saving for Christmas months in advance.
By putting Christmas in the budget around June and July, we can slowly save up cash to pay off all our Christmas shopping without putting anything on credit. I also pick up several additional side jobs in November and December to ensure we don’t put anything on a credit card.
In addition to budgeting Christmas, my wife frequently buys items throughout the year and stashes them away for Christmas. It is usually a comical sight in December when we go through all her hiding spots and find things she doesn’t even remember buying. It’s even more comical when we find items hidden a few months later after Christmas that we forgot about. By shopping throughout the year, the stress of holiday shopping is greatly decreased as is the impulse buying and poor planning.
Can you imagine a Christmas that ended in December? It’s actually quite amazing but rarely done by Americans. Do you know how much the average American spent on Christmas in 2017? They spent an average of $967.13 on gifts for friends and loved ones.¹
That’s right, the average American who doesn’t even have $1,000 in their savings account is spending $1,000 at Christmas² and I’m willing to bet they didn’t save up cash for it.
I’m not advocating cutting the Christmas spending down – well OK, maybe I am a little – but start budgeting for it in the middle or even the beginning of the year. It’s not like we don’t know when it’s coming, they start putting Christmas trees in stores in October!
I challenge you to celebrate Christmas this year in December, and only December. If you can’t pay cash for it, don’t buy it. Start budgeting for it this month and work an extra side hustle if you need more money. Let’s make this Christmas more memorable by refusing to celebrate it in the first few months of next year!
How many months into the next year have you celebrated Christmas? Are you still “celebrating?”
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