Dave says: Celebrate and give with a plan in place

Published 10:58 am Thursday, January 25, 2024

Dear Dave,

My wife and I have always accepted the fact that we’d have a mountain of debt to pay off after the holidays. Having to deal with it all seemed more frustrating this year than ever before. Can you tell us how to make it through the next Thanksgiving and Christmas without having to pay off so much debt?

— Brady

Dear Brady,

Giving is a wonderful thing if your intentions, and your finances, are in the right place. But generosity isn’t meant to be stressful to you or your bank account. It’s all too easy to try to justify overspending during the holiday season, because so many things you do are for family and friends. Still, you shouldn’t let yourself become trapped by the shopping craze or overspending just because everyone else is doing it.

Give with the right intentions, and give with a financial plan in place ahead of time that doesn’t include debt. Thanksgiving is always on the fourth Thursday of November, right? And Christmas always falls on December 25th. The holidays don’t come as a surprise to anyone, so don’t wait until November, then act shocked that it’s all just around the corner. Jump on things right now, and start setting aside a little in your budget each month throughout the year for the holiday season.

Sit down with your wife, and decide together how much you can put aside each month for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Once you agree on an amount, make a list, check it twice and stick to it. It’s easy to find something in the mall you just have to buy for someone. And that’s where problems start. So, include amounts you’re going to spend on each person, each charity, or each event. It’s all just common sense. But it’s up to you and your wife—together—to decide to live on a budget and give every single dollar a job.

You can do this, Brady. Make it happen!

— Dave

Dave Ramsey is an eight-time national bestselling author, personal finance expert and host of The Ramsey Show. He has appeared on Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, Today, Fox News, CNN, Fox Business and many more. Since 1992, Dave has helped people take control of their money, build wealth and enhance their lives. He also serves as CEO for Ramsey Solutions.