In only a few short months, we will find ourselves in the midst of the Christmas season.
Our schedules will be filled with holiday parties, programs and warm times with family and friends. For some, this season brings on stress, pressure and financial strain. This type of pressure makes it impossible to focus on the true meaning of the holiday. The endless gift list will consume the mind and bank accounts of many individuals. Many will create debt from one day that will be carried throughout the following year. This in turn causes Christmas to be viewed as stressful, and not a time of joy.
With a little planning, it is possible to embrace the true reason for this season and still enjoy exchanging gifts without going into debt. These 4 simple tips can help you have a debt free, stress free and joyous Christmas.
Set a Christmas budget.
A budget keeps us from spending money we don’t have and going further in debt. As you are preparing your budget, ask yourselves these questions:
• What do you really need to have an enjoyable Christmas?
• Can you pare down the list and the amount?
• Are you able to make gifts?
• Is the family willing to draw names, instead of purchasing gifts for every single person?
For some of us, it may be a wise decision to use cash only for Christmas. This system ensures you don’t stray away from your budget. You spend only the money that is put aside; the amount you have budgeted.
Have a plan in place—make a list.
Now that you have an allocated amount of money to spend on Christmas, you can make your gift giving list. Make a list of all the recipients, gift ideas, and the amount you can spend on each person. The list should include every single person that you will purchase a gift for; family members, teachers, co-workers, etc. If you don’t know what type of gift you would like to give an individual, designate a dollar amount for that person.
Take the list with you when you are shopping.
Going Christmas shopping without a list, is like going to the grocery store without a list. We buy
items we don’t need and spend a lot more money than we had planned.
Find the money.
You have a budget in place. You have a plan. Now you need to figure out how you are going to secure all the funds.
We will look at a budget of $400 for Christmas with 12 weeks before your shopping trip. Our next step is to take the figure and break it down into a manageable amount.
With a budget of $400, you need to put aside $33 per week. How can you get $33 a week without compromising your tithes and your other bills?
If you eat out for lunch every day spending $7, you can save $35 a week by bringing your lunch from home. Or you can make your coffee at home, saving you $4 a day ($20 weekly saving) and bring your lunch for two days ($14 weekly saving) which gives you $34 a week toward your Christmas fund. You can also eat dinner at home for a month, instead of eating out to make up the difference.
Changing our mindset about Christmas.
Putting the focus back on Jesus’ birthday, will serve as a reminder to us that it is not the birth day of those on our list, but it is His special day we celebrate.
Christmas doesn’t have to be stressful. If we plan, budget and stick to that plan, we can put our entire family in a better position financially for the new year. We can have a stress free and debt free Christmas and truly focus on celebrating Jesus.
by Yolanda Barney