Christmas and the holiday season used to be incredibly stressful for me. The pressure to buy just the right gift, when I didn’t have any money to begin with, was depressing, maddening, and frightening all at once. When you add family, extended family, and children to the mix, you multiply those pressures many times, especially when the checking account was bone dry.
Almost every parent wants their children to experience the feeling of abundance and Christmas is the perfect time to indulge their every whim. From allowing them to stay up a couple of hours later to watch the Christmas specials, to letting them eat way too many sugar cookies, to buying them impulse gift after impulse gift while browsing Toys R Us, I did it too! And I paid for it later, with kids that couldn’t go to sleep from the sugar rush, to the credit card bills that arrived in January, and February, and March, and April, and … I bet I paid for some Christmas’s for 5 years or more.
For several years, my sweet little wife would get Christmas jobs to help out. I worked from 6 AM until 6 PM at my job and would rush home to keep the kids while she went out to work as a cashier at a grocery store or at a department store, just so we could give those extra few gifts to each other and our kids. It’s funny how today, I cannot remember a single one of those gifts, but I definitely remember the willingness of my wonderful wife to get going when the going got tough.
Then, we opened an account at a new bank and lo and behold, they had a special savings account called a Christmas club. I started one that February and only put in $50 per month, but we had an additional $500 when November rolled around and Christmas was much easier that year and every year since.
That “one thing” you can do is PLAN.
Planning and following through with that plan is the hallmark of maturity. It’s the mark of an individual who doesn’t react to what’s happening, but MAKES something happen. Planning is the first step toward financial independence and the beginning of living a stress free life. Make your plans today that next Christmas will be different.
I still have that same Christmas Club account, 18 years later. It has served me well because I have constantly and continuously put in just a small portion of each month’s income into it. It’s been an easy way for me to relieve the stress associated with the added expenses of Christmas. It’s also helped me make sure Christmas is NOT a depressing time because of my personal failure to plan.
photo credit: danesparza