The Christmas season isn’t officially over. It ends on January 6 with Epiphany. However, I think now is the time to start thinking about next year’s Christmas.

Wait a minute! You still haven’t paid for this past Christmas? That is tough!  It doesn’t have to be that way. You can have cash based Christmas.

We started a Christmas savings account when we were in our early 20’s. Don’t ask me what made our dumb 20-something selves do something financially responsible, but we did. We opened a savings account, and every pay day we transferred money to the account. In the early days, it wasn’t much, but as we started making more money, we increased the allotment. Yes, it was an allotment. We had the bank transfer the money for us. There was no, “We really need the money this pay day.” We never saw it in our checking account.

And so for the past 16 years, our Christmas is paid for only in cash. Do you know how much fun it is shopping when you have the money to pay for it? Yes, we still have to make a budget to stay within what we have saved, but there is no stress. It is actually fun to see how far I can make our Christmas money go.

We never, ever touch our Christmas account. One year we had a huge expense. It was after hurricane Francis. We had huge oak trees that had been damaged in the storm and were threatening our neighbor’s house. There was another hurricane on the way, and the trees had to come out. It cost us almost $6,000. Did we touch our Christmas money? No. We found another way to pay for it. (The tree guys worked out a payment plan for us.) That Christmas we still had money to buy presents.

Now, you may be saying that Christmas isn’t about presents. We shouldn’t be greedy. That all this commercialization has ruined Christmas and taught our children that Christmas is only about presents. I don’t think that is true. I love giving gifts. I love buying presents for my children. Greedy children are not made on Christmas day. They are made by our actions all year long. Greed is inborn in every one of us, and I don’t think we kill the big, green monster by denying presents to our children only on Christmas. In fact, aren’t we given the best gift of all on Christmas Day? Did we deserve Jesus? Did God say that He was going to teach us a lesson and deny us our Savior? Maybe I am exaggerating a bit, but gifts on Christmas are given out of love and not because we deserve them. Would any of us really deserve our gifts? Be honest.

Anyway, that is my rant.

My advice is to start saving now. Even if it is only $20 a month. Teach your children to save for Christmas. My kids know we save for Christmas. When I talk about it with them, I get a lot of, “Yes, mom. We KNOW, Mom.” I don’t care. Maybe someday it will translate. I hope so, anyway.

I hope your Christmas was joyous, and I hope 2015 is a banner year for you!