Saving For Santa

We’re barely a month removed from the holidays, yet the joy of the season quickly gives way to the anguish of paying bills. Each year, you resolve not to drown yourself in Christmas debt. But come January, you always seem to find yourself clamoring for a financial life preserver. There are ways to shop smartly and avoid the blizzard of bills that bury you in red ink. But you have to start preparing sooner, rather than later.

The holiday decorations are long gone as stores try to empty their shelves of winter merchandise to make way for their spring stock. Yet, Christmas, still eleven months away, is a motivator for spending money. Jan Lowe of Worthington, Minnesota said, “I’m always looking, I have three sisters and my parents are both still living and I have good friends that I exchange gifts with, so I’m always on the outlook for that.”

However, the year-round urge to Christmas shop isn’t matched by the financial foresight to avoid plummeting into holiday debt. Experts say it’s a process that needs to begin now. Lorri Halverson of Consumer Credit Counseling Service said, “It’s really hard to wrap our brains around it because we’ve just come out of the holiday rush and a lot of us, we get into January we’re thinking thank heavens it’s over and we just happy to see things settle down a little bit.”
Halverson says achieving a debt-free Christmas in 2007 can be as simple as following a four-step plan. Step one is deciding how much money you’ll spend for Christmas. “You can take a look at what you spent last year, maybe make some appropriate adjustments, if you think you went over, or if you’re anticipating you’re going to have additional expenses in the next year.”

Step two is checking with your bank or credit union about setting up a Christmas Club, or some other type of interest-bearing account earmarked for Christmas spending only. The money would come directly out of your paycheck so you’re not tempted to use it for other expenses. Socking away just ten dollars a week will give you an extra five-hundred in cash at the end of the year. “What’s nice about the Christmas club ones is right about early November, they just automatically put that money back into your account so it’s ready for you to use and go spend on the holidays.”

Comments are closed.