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Dave Says-Christmas in…September?

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Dear Dave,

I know it may be early to talk about Christmas, but do you have any advice on saving for the holiday season?

Carlie {{more}}

Dear Carlie,

It’s never too early to talk about Christmas! I’m glad you’re thinking about things ahead of time. A lot of people wait until December to buy gifts and make plans. That’s fine if they’ve got the money set aside to handle things, but most of them don’t. Then, they panic and turn to credit cards. You don’t want to end up in a situation where you’re still paying off Christmas in April.

If you don’t have anything put aside yet, I’d suggest setting some spending goals now. Taking a close look at your income and expenses should be part of this. If you’re not doing it already, what I’m talking about here is living on a written, monthly budget. Look at how much you can afford to put toward Christmas each month, make a gift-giving goal amount, and stick to it. Along with this, you might consider opening a separate account just for your Christmas savings. Start looking for gift deals now, too. There are end-of-summer sales still going on, and you never know what you might find.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a wonderful Christmas or make the season special for others—even when it comes to giving. Thoughtful handmade items, meaningful photographs set in a frame, or special baked goods are great ways to show the folks in your life you’re thinking about them and how much you care.

Now, let’s talk about next year. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with including a line just for Christmas in your budget each month. Christmas doesn’t sneak up on you. It’s on December 25thevery single year. Putting a little money aside all year long might just take some of the stress out of your Yuletide planning.

Good question, Carlie!

—Dave

*Dave Ramsey is CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored seven best-selling books, includingThe Total Money Makeover. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 16 million listeners each week on 600 radio stations and multiple digital platforms. Follow Dave on the web at daveramsey.com and on Twitter at @DaveRamsey.

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