According to a survey from MagnifyMoney, Americans racked up an average of $1,230 in debt this holiday season—up from $1,054 in 2017 and $1,003 in 2016. That works out to a payment of $102.50 per month, plus interest, to pay it all off before Christmas 2019. Yuck.
But here’s the thing. It doesn’t have to be this way …
Imagine, for a moment, how different the holidays would feel if you paid in cash. If, next year, you could say, “Christmas shopping … has been so relaxed and stress-free. I budgeted for the holiday, then broke it out per recipient, and have just been spending from my categories. No more worrying … ”
That’s a quote from an actual YNABer, and she’s not alone! YNABers across the globe trimmed their trees, decked the halls and filled Santa’s sleigh without charging a cent! And you can, too. Here’s what you need to know:
Christmas Planning is Evergreen
Christmas comes but once a year, but it takes 12 months to do it up right. That means start saving now. Tally up how much you spent in 2018, adjust to suit your plans for 2019, and divide that figure by 12. That’s how much you need to set aside each month to be ready for the most magical Christmas you could possibly have (the debt-free kind!).
Now, create your Christmas category—or set up a holiday category group with categories for gifts, entertainment, travel or whatever else you need to buy during the season. And don’t underestimate the power of setting goals to keep you on track. (Seriously, go set some!)
The Best Gift of All …
If you’re stressed out, maxed out and feeling drained from this year’s festivities, you’re probably not in the mood to think about next Christmas, but that’s exactly why you should! Put those feelings to good use, and save yourself from repeating the pattern next year.
It’ll take just a few moments to set up your Christmas categories, now, and think of the benefits:
- Worry-Free, Guilt-free Shopping: By setting aside a little, every month, you’ll be able to enjoy the holidays without leaning on your credit card or going broke next December. And wouldn’t it be more fun to watch your Christmas cash pile grow, instead of your debt?
- Flexibility & Freedom: If you want to take advantage of Black Friday or Prime Day deals (or any other annual sales!), you’ll have holiday money stashed and ready to spend. And, even if you don’t shop the sales, you’ll have the option to start your Christmas shopping early, before the stores are too crowded.
- No Second-Guessing: For total immunity from marketing and social pressure, there’s no better tool than your budget. Plan your holiday spending, now, and you’ll be laser-focused on exactly what to buy for your best version of the holidays. If it’s not in the budget, it’s not a priority. Simple.
You’ve Got 12 Months!
Give yourself the gift of a debt-free Christmas, and start now! If you’ve never budgeted before, you’ve got to give it a try. Soon enough, you’ll see that budgeting isn’t about restriction. It’s about freedom and living the best version of your life possible, and you won’t believe how good it feels!
Need a little more help to get started? Drop into our free, 20-minute class, Pay for Big Expenses without Borrowing. Our teachers are the friendliest, most helpful bunch around, and they’d be happy to answer all of your questions.