News You Can Use: The Cost of Christmas

The Christmas season is the most expensive time of the year. 25% of all personal spending in the United States occurs during the holiday shopping season, beginning on the day after Thanksgiving and going through Christmas (www.statisticbrain.com).

A 2010 Time article reported that in December of that year, 13.6 million Americans were still paying off debts from Christmas shopping the previous year! Time went on to list several reasons that 2010 saw the lowest usage of credit cards in 27 years, based on information from TransUnion credit reporting agency. Sadly, that trend reversed the following year, according to an article on the Washington Post  website.

ABC News reports consumer counseling agencies see a 25% rise in the number of people seeking help in January and February, mostly driven by holiday bills. And no wonder: DailyFinance.com reported in 2013 that 57 percent of parents indicated that they were going to take on debt to buy gifts for their kids.

Christmas gifts are easily the most expensive part of Christmas for most Americans, but these are not the only expenses we need to be ready for. Travel, entertaining, food, events – the list can be daunting. More importantly, while we may think to budget for gift-giving, many will not think of the other expenses that come with the season.

To help you prepare for the Christmas season, Dave Ramsey has added a new tool to his website. Called “My Christmas Budget”, the tool is relatively simple but will help you not only to think through what you plan to spend on Christmas, but also to document what you actually spent. You can print your budget (including what you actually spent) or e-mail it to yourself. This can be a great starting point for keeping records this year and planning for next. Check it out on the Dave Ramsey website.