Preparing for a debt free Christmas.
It’s 8 Weeks to Christmas so how do I prepare for a debt free Christmas or nearly debt free will be good?
Year after year a lot of families seem to live on a financial treadmill that never stops, it just seems to keep going at the end of each year pouring over at the beginning of each new year starting a new roller coaster with the ups and downs, these really are the most financially stressful times for families.
January and February can be extremely financially stressful times for the family budgeters, it starts at Christmas with the kids asking for expensive presents and dutiful parents love to indulge their beautiful offspring. It makes us feel good when we see the smiles on the faces of our spoilt children as they open lavish presents Christmas morning.
Our desire to give our children gifts well and truly above our budget outweighs any ramification the cost will have on our stress levels as we try to balance future budgets.
Christmas has left families with lots of credit card debt, the bank account is empty, then school holidays in January steels all the spare cash left over and the credit card gets overdrawn. Then February comes and school books, uniforms and all the activities the kids do, needs to be paid for.
In February, the family financial controller who is usually mum, is stressed out, pulling her hair out as she tries to work out how she will get the budget back under control and pay off all the debt while maintaining the family standard of living.
How do you eliminate the Christmas to Christmas debt stress
So how do we eliminate all the financial stress? Planning!!!!
The more you plan and the more organised you are, the better off you will be. I used to have a note book I had things written down in, now we use apps. Have a look at the free Christmas Gift List from Amazon. This app will help you set budgets for each person, plan gift ideas and organise wrapped and purchased gifts for the whole family.
Start Early in January
The earlier you start planning for Christmas the less stress there will be over this time. Lets face it, you probably won’t stop indulging your little ankle biters, but doing it cleverer is the answer, so you will need to plan it well.
When my children were little, I had no financial stress at all, because I was preparing for the following Christmas as soon as Christmas had gone, and sometimes I even had things held back for the following Christmas. The first toy sales that happened during January, was my first lay-by, every fortnight I paid a small amount off the balance with the aim of paying the total off by September. I trolled all the following catalogues for more toys suitable for my children for the following Christmas and added them to the lay-by.
By September or October I had all my children’s toys purchased, I would get them all out and lay them in piles to make sure I had enough and the quantity was balanced equally between all the children. Sometimes I held presents back for the following year, sometimes I realised I needed extra for one child which was easy to add at this point. All I needed to do was add the one special gift that each child asked for.
Savings plan for older children and extended family
As the kids get bigger and they grow up, it is not as easy to forward purchase, although you can have all the stocking filler gifts bought. It may be worth considering starting a savings plan or Christmas club account where you can add small amounts of money each week or month from your budget to take the monetary pressure away at the end of the year. This one action may even make a debt-free Christmas the following year.
It is also even more important at this stage in family life to have purchased all the extended family presents earlier throughout the year so you spread the cost of buying these. You can often find sales especially mid-year sales where you can pick up goods for the rest of the family.
I know of people who swear by companies like Crisco Christmas Hampers, if you’re not great at budgeting, then this is a good idea. I personally found the goods they included not totally to my taste and I preferred to purchase my own goods. I could pick up goods throughout the year at a cheaper price and purchase home brands to save me even more money. But if budget shopping is not your strength, then this is a way to help with bill shock.
The family Christmas this year will be at my home, I will need to be able to cater for everyone over the day, which will be expensive. I purchased my ingredients for the Christmas pudding last month and will start soaking the fruit in alcohol soon, spreading out the cost of desert.
As I shop each week from now on, I will purchase extra food, drinks, alcohol and treats for the table, so the week of Christmas there won’t be any bill shock for me. I will be more conscious of cutting the cost of my weekly groceries, choosing meat free meals like tuna or beans occasionally, using powered rather than fresh milk etc. so there is extra money for a few additional purchases.
Spreading the cost of Christmas over the previous year by careful and clever planning is a wonderful way of reducing any stress from previous years, allowing you to enjoy a wonderful time with your family and friends indulging everyone the same way you previously have and walking away Debt-free and guilt-free too, when everyone else is stressed and sinking in debt.