Ready or not, you are about to be hit with the holidays.

As you might have noticed recently or even mid-summer, department stores are already putting out winter clothes and holiday decorations.

It seems like we are planning for the holiday season earlier each year, and school just started!

The lines, the traffic and the money that is associated with the holiday season can be stressful.

SO STRESSFUL.

One of the ways to help alleviate some of that financial stress is to be prepared. We want to help you be proactive as we head into the upcoming season.

First, sit down with your family and develop a game plan. Decide what amounts would be appropriate to spend on each other. Discuss drawing names instead of buying excessive gifts that will wind up stashed in a closet later on. What about homemade gifts? Some of the most precious and meaningful present are those that require time and patience in creating. We get so wrapped up in the spending, that this year we want to encourage you to plan ahead. Make this season meaningful and save yourself some money instead.

Another thing to consider is credit. Time.com recently reported that on average, an American between the ages of 18 and 65 has $4,717 in credit card debt. According to CreditCards.com, the average credit card’s interest rate is 15%. At the minimum payment of $189, it’ll take 10 years and a month to pay off that $4,717. The total payments would amount to $22,869. That’s a $18,155 cost for a very small loan. Can you imagine making that kind of payment for 10 years for one or two Christmas holidays? And most people don’t payoff those cards, so you continue to run up those balances. No wonder debt has become such a huge part of American life.

This year is different! Sit down with the family and discuss presents, options and new traditions.

Take control of the sleigh this year and get off on the right foot for 2017. Remember, in twenty years the memories and time spent will be of much more value than the toys that have long since been sold in a garage sale.