Do you realize that Christmas is only a month away? When I was eight years old, it seemed that, once Thanksgiving was over with, Christmas was still in the distant future. Ten years later, I wondered how I could manage to come up with gifts for my sisters, parents, two-year-old nephew and my best friend. When I had been still in high school, I’d received a small allowance from my dad and fifty cents an hour from my part-time job at the Penney’s store. Fortunately, my generous and helpful mother had bought many gifts for my sisters and Dad and encouraged me to choose things to use as my gifts to them. Dad, of course, always made sure I had money to get “something nice” for Mother.

But the Christmas after I turned eighteen, I was away in college and more or less on my own when it came to paying for anything aside from my college expenses which were taken care of by scholarships and my dad. If I wanted to come up with Christmas gifts, I was going to have to figure out where the money was to come from. That’s when I learned a few things about budget management, planning ahead, generosity and pride.

Recommended for you