YNAB Podcast Episode 59 - What will your holidays look like?

This episode aired December 4, 2012.

Hello YNABers. My name is Jesse Mecham and this is podcast number 59 for You Need A Budget, where we teach you four rules to help you stop living pay check to pay check, get out of debt and save more money.

And yes, I’m aware of the fact that there is no intro music and my voice does not sound nearly as pleasant without that little jingle going. For that, I apologize. My main work machine is out of commission for a few days and it has set me back in a serious way. Anyway, we can move on, plow ahead and ignore the setbacks.

I wanted to ask you what you would be doing the day after Christmas, and I wanted to maybe let you recognize the fact that the day after Christmas – or maybe even the evening of Christmas – when things quiet down and all the festivities come to a halt that it’s a good time to evaluate what just happened with your holiday season.

You could look at it and say, “Did we give the gifts we wanted to give? Did we go overboard? Did we do too little?” That actually happened to us last year. I could tell you a sad story about a four-year-old girl that was crying because of Mom and Dad’s MASSIVE oversight – but that’s for another day. So, you can evaluate that; evaluate the staying power of those gifts. Were they meaningful? Did you have a budget for them? Did you stay in budget? And look and see where your thoughts were, where your focus was, and maybe where your stress levels were at during the holiday season. And then with that fodder that came from pondering, just write down a few goals for the holidays of 2013, a year from now.

One of the main goals should be… and I would hope that as you’re acutely aware of the gift situation, that… you know, just after this holiday season, as you’re acutely aware of that you’ll be able to set some very well-informed goals for the coming year, saying, “I want to do this differently. I want to do this. I want to be able to think of gifts throughout the year,” maybe, or, “I want to stick to a budget this year.” And whatever you decide regarding the gifts – and all of your Christmas celebration, not just gifts, but travel, extra food that you maybe purchase for parties or what not – as you evaluate that, do a total. Find out what the holidays will cost you next year, and then divide that total by 12, and you will have your monthly Christmas budget.

And I ran a program this year called ‘Cash for the Holidays’, had about 400 people join. I kept it very small because I was responding personally to every email. And we just kind of stayed motivated with each other to pay cash for the holidays. Each month I’d check in and people would report back how it was going. It was quite effective and I think we’ll do it again this next year, so look for an email from me somewhere after the Christmas season dies down.

But that’s my challenge to you. It’s a short podcast. I had something else slated but the recording of the interview was sitting on my other machine, so I’ll get that another week. I apologize that this podcast is a day late, but oh well. And I hope that you can take this and run with it. Just use the day or two after Christmas to evaluate, do a little post-mortem analysis; set some goals for the next holiday season, one of which is how much you will spend; divide it by 12 and get your monthly Christmas bill – and then you just run with it. It is a great way to celebrate the holidays – everything set aside upfront with purpose, and there’s really no other merry way to do it.

I will talk to you guys again, but I wish you a Merry Christmas, no doubt, anyway, and we hope to catch you next time.

Until next time, follow YNAB’s four rules and you will win financially. You have not budgeted like this.