Christmas is December 25th this year. It was December 25th last year. In fact, I have it on good authority that it will be December 25th next year also! So, given that we all know when it is, why do so many of us treat Christmas as a financial emergency? After all, we all know when it will be. And yet it is so easy to get caught up in spending far more money than we should and relying on credit cards to carry us through what seems to be a financial emergency.

There are true financial emergencies – things that are totally unexpected or can’t be predicted. But Christmas, birthdays, etc. aren’t emergencies. We know they are coming and we even know when. In fact, most things we term financial emergencies are not really emergencies at all but a lack of planning. With a little thinking, we could easily predict that they are coming. For example, my car has over 100,000 miles on it. I don’t know exactly when it will next need repair or even what will need to be repaired. But it is a pretty safe bet that sometime in the near future something will need to be fixed. That means my budget better include some money set aside each month so when the repair is needed I am ready.

So…it is now August. I don’t know your situation, but I know that I have only eight remaining pay days between now and Christmas. If you haven’t already started planning for the holidays, it is time! Even setting aside a small amount of money each week can help ease the financial pressure of the holidays. If you need budgeting help, a great resource is the Manage Your Money self-study course from the Ohio State University Extension Service. There are six sections to the course that are interesting and fun to read. Many of the sections include forms that could be used for financial planning and could be printed from your computer. In no time you will be on your way to a stress-free holiday season!