It seems crazy to even think about, but right now is actually a good time to be thinking about Christmas. Before the Christmas tree had even been hauled off, a lot of people had already started getting ready for next Christmas by purchasing discounted wrapping paper, bows, tags and decorations.
Two financial planners at Kansas State University agree that’s a good start, but they think there’s more we can do to be prepared when Christmas rolls around later this year.
Associate professor at the university’s Institute of Personal Financial Planning, Kristi Archuleta, says we should start shopping early and have a plan.
“Otherwise, it’s really easy to just get in the store and kind of go overboard with making purchases that you may or may not have planned for and may or may not be in the budget,” Archuleta said.
Associate professor and certified financial planner at the Institute, Sonya Britt, suggests making a written list of gift ideas and keeping it somewhere handy.
“So, keep it in your wallet and keep track of what you’ve spent on people,” Britt suggested. “And have this spending limit ahead of time that the couples have talked about. That way, we’re not having conflict.”
To ease the pressure to spend a lot on gifts, Britt challenges us to think about what we got this past Christmas -- less than two weeks ago -- or the Christmas before.
“Eightyto 90 percent of the time, you can’t remember what you got,” Britt stated. “So I think people spend way too much time worrying about the financial cost, when really what we remember is what we DID last Christmas.”
In the long run, Britt thinks remembering who we celebrated with and the activities we did together is more important than going into debt.
To reduce the risk of going into debt, Archuleta suggests setting a budget and opening a savings account now that’s specifically for Christmas.
“Where you put a little bit of your paycheck into that account every single month, I think is really important in order to prepare and to not go into that debt,” advised Archuleta. “And, you can even send it to a different bank if that is helpful, just so it is out of sight, out of mind.”
With most merchandise still heavily discounted, Archuleta and Britt say now is the perfect time to be shopping for Christmas. Plus, there’s no excuse to be unprepared. After all, Christmas falls on December 25 every year.