Did you know that Christmas is in fact coming this year? Yeah, I think it’s going to be around the 25th. I just wanted to let you all know so that you don’t get surprised by it, like we tend to do every. single. year. So now that we’ve remembered it’s coming, how do we prepare for it? If you’re a true Ramsey-ite, you’ll build it into your December budget, going full force on your debt snowball until then. And it’s true, that way is the best for reducing your debt as quickly as you can, because it leaves you with the most income to use for debt payments in the meantime. But Rachel and I, troublemakers that we are, are modifying his approach. We’re still building it into our budget, but we’re starting to save for gifts now, in August. That way, we don’t feel the brunt of the impact as much when December rolls around. Also, I think saving a little bit each month between now and then reduces our risk better, too. What happens if I lose one of my jobs or we have an unexpected doctor bill right before the holidays? If we’ve been saving all along, we’ll be better situated to follow Michael Scott’s second rule of business, which is to adapt, react, readapt, and act in the face of unforeseen circumstances if they decide to show up.
Time for a Talk
You know what else is a good idea to plan before Christmas comes? What kinds of gifts you’re going to give. Having a discussion with your family now about how you plan to spend the holidays can keep tempers from flaring during the most wonderful time of the year. It’s much easier to decide to only do handmade gifts before your 4-year-old nephew has convinced everyone else in the family that he needs the entire Lego Star Wars collection. You can also begin having conversations about where everyone will gather now, and if your employer will let you, start asking for time off if necessary to make it happen. That gives your boss plenty of time to respond, and in turn gives you plenty of time to reschedule or figure out some other way to try out those mistletoe footie pajamas your Aunt Ruth gave you last year.
If you’re in debt, keep in mind that the holiday season is the biggest test of your commitment to getting out of it. Everything, everywhere is designed to separate you from your money around this time of year, and it’s up to you to stay focused on getting rid of the debt monster. If you’re giving your money to American Express or Sallie Mae every month, you just can’t afford to buy as much stuff as you would if you were debt-free. The sooner you realize that, and the harder you attack your debt, the sooner you can slay the dragon and spoil your nephew with as many Lego Star Wars sets as you can find. But until then, finding ways to make memories with your family that don’t involve blowing your income, or worse, going further into debt, is going to have to do.
What about you? Have you started planning for the holidays already? What does your family do to minimize the financial burden while maximizing the cheer?