Family Money

Crushing Christmas One Month at a Time

Shoot! Here we go again. Christmas is coming and we have to make room in the budget for all the gifts we have to buy. What a hassle, right?

Every year millions of people scramble to buy gifts for their friends and families. Very few plan ahead and purchase gifts throughout the year in order to relieve some of the stress that enters our lives on the coat tails of all that holiday joy.

But you aren’t here to learn about buying gifts early to make Christmas less stressful, are you? Nope! You’re here for the money. I mean, I’m not giving money away for Christmas or anything… But, you know what I mean. Let’s dig in.

The Christmas Carousel

Many people have a bit of a financial routine as Christmas comes and goes. Thanksgiving passes, Black Friday and Cyber Monday arrive, and we begin our Christmas shopping. By mid-December we’re crossing off our shopping lists while also crossing off our hopes of escaping a financial meltdown this year.

Finally it’s January. We’ve narrowly escaped bankruptcy and barely managed to pay all of our bills. Our wallet’s favorite time of year is approaching as we anxiously await our W-2s and begin our tax returns.

Now, February has arrived, at last our bank accounts have been boosted by a few thousand dollars and just as quickly as the stress of Christmas spending arrived, it escapes out the window as we contemplate what to buy with our tax refund.

If, at this point, you feel like I’m narrating the next few months of your life, please, read on!

Same Day, Different Year

Did you feel your blood pressure rising as you progressed through that last section? If so, hang in there. Good news to come.

Christmas is on the Same. Day. Every. Year.

Before we get to the meat and potatoes of this post, I’ve got come clean about something. I nearly didn’t write this article due to the simplicity of this solution. Then, this happened: Gina reminded me that we’ve only been planning ahead for Christmas for five short years.

Up until five years ago, my plan was to either A) go broke or B) convince my loved ones that we should have a seriously low spending limit for Christmas.

Christmas is on December 25th. Every time. No one is waiting for a ground hog to see its shadow to kick off the holiday season. It’s coming, ya’ll. So, what do you say we start planning for it in advance?

I know, I know. Planning ahead is boring. It’s a lot of work. Who really plans 12 months ahead? The FIRE Community does, because we’re weird. But hey, would you rather be weird or be broke?

Isn’t it Too Late to Plan for Christmas?

Sure. As of right now, as I right this, it’s 9:32PM on December 3, 2019. If you haven’t done any planning ahead for this Christmas, it may be difficult to start saving now. I don’t have a quick fix for Christmas 19.

However, keep in mind that the title of this article is Crushing Christmas One Month at a Time. So, what better time to start planning for Christmas 2020 than now? Are you ready to kick the mental and financial drain to the curb and truly enjoy the holidays? Good. Let’s do that.

The “Crushing Christmas One Month at a Time” Plan

Here it is. Short, sweet, and to the point.

  1. Find the total dollar amount spent on Christmas this year. If you’re reading this well after Christmas, do your best to estimate how much usually spend on Christmas. (Example: $1,000 spent on Christmas gifts in 2019.)
  2. Adjust the amount you spent to a nice round number that you’re comfortable with. If you feel like you were broke and would have liked buying a few more gifts, increase your number. If you think you should cut back, go for it. (Example: Skipped out on a few gifts, so let’s increase our number to $1,200)
  3. Divide your number by 12. $1,200 / 12 = $100
  4. Add this number to your monthly budget, set aside $100 every month in its own savings account. Step 4b: if you don’t have a budget, make one!
  5. As you purchase Christmas gifts, transfer the amount you’ve spent back into your checking in order to “reimburse yourself” for Christmas gifts.
  6. Once your Christmas Fund is depleted, stop purchasing Christmas gifts and start enjoying your stress free holiday season. You’ve crushed Christmas, one month at a time!

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