It’s snowing AGAIN right now and I have major winter fatigue!  Over 75 inches of snow this winter ALREADY in the Philly suburbs and it is only mid-February.  Visions of daffodils are dancing in my head.  I can’t wait to leave this winter behind and never see a another snowflake.  But when money is tight you really need to plan ahead.  Way ahead.

When living paycheck to paycheck any deviation in your bills can send you scrambling back to using credit cards.  For us, Christmas is one of those cases.  We don’t go crazy at Christmas buying gifts for our three kids and family members, but the cost is definitely greater than our monthly discretionary income at this point.   It would be the perfect set-up for a another failed attempt to get out of debt.

To avoid the squeeze I know is coming this December I decided to start a “Christmas Fund”.   My husband gets paid bi-monthly and we are putting $20 a paycheck away now –  so come Christmas we will not have to resort to credit cards to pay for it.

I’m putting this money in a sub-account at ING Direct .  I have enough faith in my budget for the first time ever that I know I will not need to raid this account.  But if you don’t trust yourself yet, many Credit Unions offer “Holiday Accounts” or “Christmas Club” accounts where they offer “bonus rates” with no penalties on withdrawals IF you don’t touch the money until November.   Even Kmart and Sears got in on the act last year with 3% BONUS rates on gift cards.

I’m hoping this plan will mean a less stressful holiday season.  The alternative is to pretend Christmas isn’t coming this year and AGAIN be faced credit card bills in January.

NOT "brought to you by Chase" this year!

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