Dear Barb—‘Tis the Season

Dear Barb:

Christmas is over and the Christmas bills are starting to roll in.  I didn’t realize I had spent so much money, even though I was trying to control my spending this year.  It’s so frustrating.  Although I had a great Christmas, the feeling is being spoiled by all these bills.  I would like to find a way to avoid this from happening next year.  I know it’s early to start thinking about next Christmas, but I don’t want to leave it to the last minute again.  I know I should save money ahead, but I can’t seem to accomplish that.  Do you have any suggestions of how I could save some money for Christmas without affecting my day to day living, as I do not have a lot of extra money? Thanks, Jenna. 

Hi Jenna:

I’m sure there are a lot of people feeling like you are right now.  We all get caught up in the Christmas spirit and end up spending more than we should.  The malls are filled with beautiful things that we know our loved ones would really like and the stores make it so simple to make purchases.  Also, credit is so easy to get, and most offer some sort of plan to defer payments.  The “buy now and pay later” philosophy is way too appealing for most of us.  We all think the money will somehow materialize when the payment becomes due.  Unfortunately, if that does not happen, we end up with debt and monthly payments along with exorbitant interest charges.  Plus, many cards have a yearly fee beginning around $20 and upwards of $100.  However, you can shop around and find many credit cards with no annual fees and even some where you can earn points which add up over the year, providing you with a nice little rebate cheque which you can use for Christmas shopping.  There is no way around it, if you don’t want to go in debt for Christmas; you have to begin budgeting now.  Start by deciding who you are going to buy for and what type of gift they would like.  Make a list and beside each name write down how much you want to spend on that person.  Throughout the year watch for sales of these items and when possible purchase the items at the sale price.  Be sure that you can pay for each item when you buy it, or if you put it on your credit card make sure you pay the balance off at the end of the month.  Keep track of how much you are spending on each person and if you are spending less than you budgeted, apply the extra to someone else’s gift, or save it for Christmas incidents like wrapping paper or cards.  Good luck Jenna, hope this is helpful.