When we were first married my sister gave us some of the most useful advice that we’ve ever received. Way back before I had ever heard of Dave Ramsey, she told us all about how they never put Christmas presents on credit cards. She said they determined how much they needed to spend and then divided it up by 12 months and set that much aside each month in a Christmas account. Then when Christmas rolled around, it was never stressful – just fun! Then she told me that she does that with many other things too – any kind of recurring annual expense. Instead of putting these things on a credit card and paying for them month after month with interest, pay yourself the money in advance. It was so contrary to the way I knew that most of the world did things… I thought she was brilliant.
We’ve used that advice throughout our marriage and it has helped us tremendously. We find new ways to put it into practice regularly. Last year when I conveyed to my husband what our curriculum expenses would be, his response was, “how are we going to come up with that much money?” We decided that instead of letting it take us by surprise again, we would create a curriculum fund. He started saving a little each month. This year I started shopping for curriculum again and went to him with the total and he said, “okay, the money is all there, go for it.” It was wonderful.
I know that when things are tight it seems like there is no way to save. But it doesn’t have to be a lot. Just $10 a month is $120 toward next year’s curriculum. $25 a month will give you $300. $300 that you can just spend without thinking about where it will come from.
There are so many opportunities to use this idea. You can set money aside for clothing, birthdays, vacations, or household projects. When the kids need shoes or the flower beds need some pine straw, the money is already there. Everyone knows Christmas is expensive, but what about Easter, Thanksgiving, and Halloween? It is a good idea to set some money aside for those as well. Have a family with vision trouble? Dread the annual trip to the eye-doctor? Save the money in advance and don’t worry about it anymore. Okay, I realize I sound a bit like an infomercial, but this concept really has been a life-changer for us.