Leave it to the financial planner to start talking to you about Christmas in October. But it is coming! It’s a mystery – Christmas comes every year – and yet, we still get surprised by it. I always forget just how many people we give gifts to and how quickly that adds up.
A Different Way to Save
Ideally, this starts in February but even for this year, a little planning can go a long way. Review your expenses from November-January of last year and compare them to your typical monthly expenses. I prefer to do this instead of estimating the cost of gifts because the reality is that these months just cost more – more groceries, more travel, more gifts.
Example – If you typically spend $5,000/month but you spent $6,000/month between November-January, you need to save $3,000 between now and November. When November rolls around, add the $3,000 from savings to your checking account.
A Different Way to Spend
As I mentioned above, I am always surprised by just how many gifts we have to buy. And I’ll admit it, toward the end of the shopping, buying gifts feels more like a chore list than something that I enjoy. Because of that, our family started a tradition of each household gets one big gift for another household (i.e – my wife and I get a gift for my older sister and that sister gets a gift for my younger sister, and my younger sister gets a gift for us).
We have started doing this with extended family and friends as well. It alleviates the pressure of trying to find so many gifts and allows you to spend more of your time and money getting a really nice and thoughtful gift for a few people without anyone feeling left out!
I encourage you to give both the saving and spending a try and let me know how it goes!