Door busters. Stacks of gifts, most of which are put on credit cards. Overbooked schedule. Stress over getting all your Christmas cards out and not forgetting anyone. Stress over getting the right gifts for all the right people. Stress over your to-do list. Stress over your finances.
Sound familiar? That was pretty close to my normal December, every year for the last who knows how many years.
It was a bond with other people when we’d talk about how stressed we were for the holidays, speculate as to how we’d get everything done, and smile and laugh when one of us would say how much we couldn’t wait for the peace and quiet that January promised.
Then January would come, and along would come the credit card bills.
I charged how much on Christmas??
Most of us have been there. So many of us have been there that it feels ‘normal’ so we don’t question it.
Well, this year’s December is drastically different. If you’ve been reading my posts the last few months you are well aware that I am working hard to pay off all my debt. The month of December is no exception!
I am doing some things differently, very differently actually.
For starters, I’m not doing Christmas cards. Not because of the cost of cards and stamps, I just don’t feel like it.
Secondly, I’m on a strict budget for the handful of people I am buying for. I did all my shopping in one short afternoon and stuck to the plan. (Though I will admit it was tough – I saw lots of things that I would be buying people if I didn’t care about becoming debt free as fast as possible.)
Third, I’m not saying yes to every single holiday party, secret Santa, cookie exchange, dinner party, or white elephant event. Instead I’m being really intentional about what I really want to do. I don’t want to sacrifice my yoga, my group runs, or my sanity because I am afraid to say no to things.
So the last weekend before Christmas, instead of braving the mall and stressing out over list of gifts I needed to buy and the chest tightening about how much it all was costing me, I went on a hike. My dog and I went up to Devil’s Lake and enjoyed a peaceful two hour hike along the lake. We saw woodpeckers, spiky frost on the pine needles and ice formations.
Instead of racking up purchases on my credit cards, I paid down $4,183 in principal. And I spent time thinking about what my first Christmas after becoming debt free and building my emergency fund will look like.
I am so excited to be able to buy thoughtful gifts for people (and pay CASH of course), I am excited to spend money on those people who can’t afford a Christmas for their families, maybe even get dolled up in a fancy dress for a fancy holiday party. Having that as my new ‘normal’ really isn’t that far off in the grand scheme of things. Christmas 2019.
One thing Dave Ramsey often says is ‘live like no one else, so later on you can live like no one else.’ Knowing that every day my actions are in alignment with the life I so so so so want to have make the sacrifices worth it. Having this very different December feels good. It feels intentional. And more than anything else, it shows me that I really am staying the course with my goals.
Merry Christmas to all the amazing people I’ve connected with in the debt free community – those connections and all that support make all the difference! Cheers to staying the course during the most tempting month on the calendar!