Here you go. Your second reminder that Christmas 2016 is now just eight months away. And I make no apology for reminding you of this just as the sun starts to tease us into thinking that spring is just round the corner.
I get really frustrated when editors and producers call me in November, or even early December, and ask me to write a piece, or to appear on a programme, about planning for Christmas. You can’t plan properly for an event that’s going to happen in three or four weeks. Not financially anyway!
The whole point of planning for Christmas is that you can spread the cost and not have to pay for it all out of December’s salary. That’s the option that leads to a stressful January when credit card bills drop through the letterbox and you realise that although you’ve had your Christmas, you haven’t actually paid for it yet, and in fact you may be doing so for the next six months.
So make this year the year that you do it differently. Start your planning now. Think of the people that you want to, or need to, buy presents for and decide on a budget for each one. Think of all the other things you’re going to have to spend money on like food and drink and parties. Don’t forget all the cards and stamps that you’ll need as well, it’s often the small things we forget about that end up causing us most trouble as we run out of money! Add it all up and that’s your budget for Christmas.
If you do that now then you have three months to pay for some, or all, of it. You might work out that you don’t have enough to pay everything you want to buy. If you do you have a choice. Spend less, and only spend what you can afford. Or borrow the difference, but in a way that you can think about and plan.
Surely that’s better than running around the shops on Christmas Eve burning a hole in your plastic as you do so and worrying about how you’ll pay for it all when it’s over.