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Friday, September 4, 2009

Dave Ramsey Article...Christmas is A-Comin'

Christmas is A-Comin'
Lose Your January Bills Blues

Guess what? Christmas is in December this year. It comes at the same time every year and yet I still get calls to the radio show from desperate people who forgot to save for Christmas. This is NOT an not touch the emergency fund and donÕt you dare get a credit card. You're paying cash this Christmas.
If you're one of those planner types who saved a little out of every paycheck since January, you're in great shape. Congratulations. For the rest of us, there's still a little time. Sit down and figure out how much you can squeeze out of your regular budget to save between now and Christmas. There's no magic formula for deciding how much to save, it just depends on your income and how much you typically spend.

Now it's time to plan. "For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it" (Luke 14:28). The people in the mall have a plan to get your money—you need to have a plan so you don't spend all of it.
When you know how much you have to spend on gifts, make a list of everyone you are buying for on the outside of an envelope and put a dollar amount by every name. The total amount you want to spend cannot exceed your budgeted amount. Put the amount of cash you are going to spend for the gifts in the envelope. Use the cash for every gift and when the cash is gone—STOP SPENDING. Remember if you overspend on Aunt Teresa, Uncle Joe won't get a gift. Stick to the budget!
When you're doing your normal written budget—the one you do every month before the month begins—remember there are added expenses during the holidays. If you're taking your famous green bean casserole to 15 Christmas potlucks, you'll have a larger grocery bill—add it to the budget. If for the past ten years you have fallen off the ladder hanging lights on your house, budget for the emergency room visit. Sit down and think for a minute about the expenses you normally have during the season, and plan for every one of them.
If you looked at your monthly budget and there is nothing left over for Christmas gifts, you are not a bad person. Think of your skills and how you can incorporate them into gifts others will enjoy. If your brother and his family enjoy watching movies together, compile a gift box with two movies, bags of popcorn, and their favorite candy. Offer to run errands for an elderly relative or a neighbor with a newborn child. Get creative, and remember, it's the thought and effort that really counts.
God did not say in 2 Hesitations, "buy stuff on Jesus' birthday." This is a season to get together with family and celebrate the birth of the Savior. Don't spend money you don't have and go further in debt. Stick to your budget and keep working on your money makeover. Down the road, when you have control of your money, you'll be able to buy the gifts you want to give.
Close your eyes and imagine what it would be like to enjoy the Christmas season without worrying about the January bills. What would it be like if Christmas didn't follow you into the New Year? The holidays are a season of giving, but that doesn't mean that you should give so much to the point you are not financially stable. Pay cash and stick to your budget and you can avoid the January bills blues.
Dave Ramsey is a personal money management expert, an extremely popular national radio personality and best-selling author of The Total Money Makeover, Financial Peace and More Than Enough. He is also host of "The Dave Ramsey Show" on the Fox Business Network.

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