I don't know about you, but I really love all the end of the year holidays...October through December is jam packed with festivities!
To enable myself to enjoy them responsibly, I came up with a little trick that really helps me get through the season with minimal dinero issues.
Every month (usually when I pay my rent), I transfer $100 into a second (free) checking account. It's the modern day equivalent of writing yourself a check. And, when December rolls around, I have $1200 to spend on holiday related costs--presents, holiday party outfits, decorations, Christmas cards and stamps, and whatever else I feel would help spread holiday cheer.
I tried just earmarking the money in my mind, but it never really worked. It wasn't until I physically separated this money into a totally different account from my regular checking account that I was able to really leave it alone.
It's pretty cool to run around all over town humming holiday tunes and not really worry about the financial aspect...and January through March are a lot more fun when you don't have that holiday debt to work off.
I know it's a little late to start now, but what you can do is set up that second account so that when you pay your January rent or mortgage, you can just slide that Benji right on over!
And, if Christmas isn't your thing, you could institute this program for ANY expensive endeavor...maybe you throw a serious St. Patty's party every year, maybe you want to go totally nuts next Halloween, maybe you want to go on a "real" vacation next year. The general principle works for any major cost, and is scalable (you can just put in more money monthly for higher cost items). The most important parts are (1) do it every month, without exception (2) keep it separate so that you aren't tempted to dip into it.
Give it a try!
- Risa Osbon-Escobar