The buying spree on Black Friday after Thanksgiving may have led you to experience Black Monday, Black Tuesday, Black Wednesday … as you pick up all those Christmas credit card bills from the mailbox each day.
For many people, the reality of Christmas bills arriving in the mail means the worst time of the financial year. Not budgeting for Christmas spending, but going on a spending spree anyway means the cost for all the gifts, decorations, travel and party food has hit the fan and it’s time to figure out how to pay for the Christmas spending.
Reviewing various websites, the average cost of Christmas is about $700 per family. Most of the money is spent on gifts and after that, the next largest Christmas expense is travel.
Statistics show that the average family will be paying for Christmas 2018 – all the way until October 2019. And that’s about the same time the whole buying spree starts all over again!
If you are in a debt cycle now that the Christmas bills are rolling in, stop spending with your credit cards until you can get the Christmas charges paid off. Put your credit cards in a drawer and don’t use them again until your Christmas debt is paid in full.
Or put the cards in a baggie, seal it up nice and tight, then put the baggie in a bowl, add water to the bowl and put the whole thing in the freezer. That will make the credit cards much harder to access and you’ll have to stop and think before using them.
While your credit cards spending is on hold, scour each and every spending category for ways to cut back. The only response to spending money at this time is NO! so you can direct every extra penny to pay off the Christmas debt.
Add up all of the Christmas purchases on each of your credit cards so you know the total you spent on Christmas by card. Then for each card make the minimum payment, plus as much as you can scrape up to pay against your Christmas purchases. If you have cards that you didn’t use for Christmas spending, but they still have balances—pay only the minimum payment until your Christmas debt is paid in full.
Luke 14:28-30 reads: “Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion? Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself unable to finish the work the onlookers should laugh at him and say, ‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’”
Not planning for Christmas spending is like starting to build something with no idea of the total cost. You know Christmas comes every year on December 25th. You know that there is extra spending at that time of year. You know you have to spend money on gifts, decorations, travel and food. But just like the verses from the Gospel of Luke, if you haven’t planned your spending, you are the person who started building without calculating the total cost.
Make this be the LAST year that you get into debt for Christmas. Plan ahead for Christmas 2019!!
As soon as you have the Christmas debt from 2018 paid in full, figure out how many months are left until Christmas 2019. Multiple the number of months remaining by the amount you can afford to save for Christmas. And that calculation is how much you can spend on Christmas in 2019 so you can have a debt free holiday. The key is to limit your spending for Christmas 2019 to the amount of money you have saved!
This is the year where you get ahead of the debt cycle by paying off the Christmas debt and saving for the upcoming Christmas so it is important to control your spending and escape the ongoing debt.
If you were only able to save $400, that’s all you can spend. You can only spend what you have saved. Which is just the basic idea behind making and managing a budget.
Even ants know how to save! Proverbs 6:6-8 says: “Go to the ant, O sluggard, study her ways and learn wisdom; For though she has no chief, no commander or ruler, she procures her food in the summer, stores up her provisions in the harvest.” You are smarter than an ant, but, do you have the discipline to save like the ants do?
Always remember—in the back of your mind—Christmas will be coming again on December 25th. Will you be ready celebrate Christmas this year without going into debt?
As Sirach tells us in 18:30, “Do not follow your base desires, but restrain your appetites.” Restraining your appetites means a healthy financial future. What’s more important—over the top Christmas spending or a secure financial future?
Make 2018 be the last year you go into debt for Christmas!