Here we are, a week into the new year! Along with taking the tree down and putting the decorations away for another year, there are several things you should do now while the holidays are still fresh in your mind.
1. Gather all your leftover paper goods into one place — the gift wrap, cards, tags, bows and ribbons, plus all the stuff you nearly stole at the After Christmas Clearance Sale. Open your 2020 calendar to Nov. 26, and write a detailed list of your holiday supplies. Critical: Make a note of where you're storing all the stuff, too.
2. While you've got that calendar open, write your thoughts about the holidays just past. Here are a few sample questions to ponder: Which activities and traditions were the most enjoyable? Which were least enjoyable? If you overspent this year, what factors were the culprits? What caused stress and pressure? What should you have done more of? Less of? In what ways will you continue to pay for the efforts of Christmas 2019 well into the new year? Was it worth the cost? Do you regret the debt?
Sure, there might be some things you'd rather never think about again, but this kind of information will help you evaluate and plan effectively for Holiday Season 2020.
Now clip this minijournal to Nov. 26 in your 2020 calendar, right behind the inventory list. Next December, you won't have a case of holiday amnesia.
3. Write the name of each person on your gift list on a separate piece of paper. Drop them into a hat or other such container. Divide the total number by 12, and on the first day of each month, starting now, draw that many names from the hat. Let's say you have 24 names on your list. Draw two names now, another two in February and so on throughout the year. You'll have an entire month to either make or purchase gifts for just one or two people. Critical: Develop a master list so you'll know exactly what you've purchased, for whom — and where it is hidden.
4. Make a big note on your 2020 calendar to start researching your Christmas travel plans way before the holidays arrive. According to a popular travel website, Skyscanner, the best time to have booked both domestic and international flights for the 2019 Christmas holidays was the second week of October. Remembering to make travel plans sooner rather than later can free up money for other holiday spending needs.
5. If you don't have plans to reuse your holiday cards, send them to St. Jude's Ranch for Children, a residence for abused children at 100 St. Jude's St., Boulder City, NV 89005. Over 30 years ago, the idea was conceived at the ranch for turning the previous year's Christmas cards into "new" cards for the coming season. The recipients were so delighted with their unique "thank you" that they requested the children sell them the special cards. And so, the St. Jude's Card Recycling Program was born.
6. Create your own Christmas club account for next year. Tuck away $10 or $20 a week, starting today, and you'll have the cash you need for next Christmas. Better: Open a savings account at your bank or credit union, and authorize an automatic deposit. You won't miss money you don't see. Next December, you'll have a nice chunk of cash to spend, and won't that be a nice surprise!
Would you like more information? Go to EverydayCheapskate.com for links and resources for recommended products and services in this column. Mary invites questions, comments and tips at EverydayCheapskate.com, "Ask Mary." This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a lifestyle blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."
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