Fall is in the air! The weather is turning colder, it’s getting darker sooner, and by some environmental freak of nature, my new driveway is positioned perfectly to allow maximum ice build up on my wind shield. Most of us are probably starting to think about Thanksgiving, Halloween, and getting out the winter gear. Less of us are thinking about the holidays, buying presents, and how we’re going to budget for the month long extravaganza that is Christmas in many north american homes.
That needs to stop.
Christmas is only twelve weeks away, and that time is going to fly by faster than my paycheque flies out of my account every week.
Does this sound familiar? You’re a great gift giver, you’re thoughtful, you buy things that will be meaningful AND useful. You’re in the mall and you spot the perfect gift for so-and-so. You can’t pass up the opportunity, so you put it on your credit card even though you haven’t quite started saving money for Christmas yet. Who cares? You’re good with money, you’ll pay it off before the interest kicks in, after all, it’s just one present. Except this happens again. And again. And again. Eventually you’re done your Christmas shopping, having put every purchase on your card, while making half hearted payments to get rid of that now hefty balance.
This used to be me every year. I always figured out a way to pay it off, but it’s typically a scramble to come up with the money. I know I’m not the only one, and often people don’t even begin to pay the balance back until after the new year.
Which is why you need to start saving for Christmas right now. Not tomorrow, not in a few months, not after black friday, right now.
I typically spend $500 a year on Christmas. That’s below average for Canadians, but with a little DIYing and clever shopping, I can make that budget cover all of my essential gift buying. What I find amusing, is that before I started saving early for gifts, I had no idea what I spent every year. Saving early requires some kind of savings goal, which then becomes my gift budget. I spend less this way because I actually have to plan my purchases, instead of waiting for inspiration to strike. It makes me a lot more organized about the whole thing.
This year, I started saving that $500 at the beginning of September. Instead of scrambling to get it all paid off after the new year, I’m dutifully transferring $30 of my paycheque every week into a separate account labelled “Christmas Fund”.
Scrambling to pay the Christmas bill is no fun. It involves cutting back in other areas and may even delay other events that you were so looking forward to. But $30 per week? That’s entirely doable. That’s a small sacrifice to make in order to be able to spot the perfect gift and buy it without another thought.
Every year, people get caught unprepared for the holiday season. I was one of them for a long time. But excuse time is over. We know it’s coming, we know how much it’s going to cost, why not be prepared? Being prepared is way cooler and less stressful than waiting until the last minute to scrape enough money together.
Have you started saving for Christmas yet? How much do you typically spend? I want to know!