Money tends to be one of the greatest stress points during the Holiday season (ok, and life!). Christmas, especially, has become such a commercial Holiday. Every year it seems there are more people to purchase gifts for, more people asking for your donation, more events that cost you…more more more. The best thing you can do for yourself and your family is to establish a Holiday budget…and then stick to it!
A lot of people see the word “budget” and run the other direction. It gives them a negative feeling. The word seems restrictive and negative. Budgets sound stressful. Budgets are the exact opposite of all of these things! Budgets free you up to spend without guilt and worry. Budgets give your money more power. Budgets can often ignite more creativity. Today I’m going to give you some tips and tools on how to create a budget for the Holiday season, and how to stick to it. Like I’ve said many times, you have to do what works best for you and your family. Take these tips and conform them to fit your lifestyle (but don’t bend them just to cheat! haha).
1) First things first, try to take a look at what you spent last year. You don’t have to get too in depth with this. If you don’t have this documented, just take a look at your bank statements from last November and December so you can get a good idea of what you spent. Was that amount comfortable for your budget? Did you overspend? We might be surprised about how much we spent.
2) How much can you afford to spend this year? Be realistic. Factor in your monthly costs. Never neglect your bills and payments during these months so that you can spend a little more on Christmas. Unnecessary debt and late charges are only a burden. You’ll only end up spending more money in the long run and adding to your stress.
3) List all of the categories in which you’ll need to shell out some cash, beyond just gifts. Make sure to include gift wrapping, postage, decor, food, clothing, charitable donations, and travel (we’ll be talking about all of these things during the 31 day challenge!). Decide what your total budget is and then divide that appropriately amongst each category.
4) Plan your gift list well ahead of the Holiday rush to avoid unnecessary spending. This includes family, friends, neighbors, teachers, hostess gifts, and stocking stuffers. Write down everyone you plan to give gifts to and everything you need to make or buy. Plan a few “just in case” gifts as well.
5) Keep good records and stay within your budget. Find a place to keep all of your holiday related receipts. You can even go as far has having a labeled envelope for each category. (I plan on doing that this year so I can go beyond the shoe box full of receipts. Gotta love digging through that mess!). Keep track of everything your purchase. If you overspend in one area, that’s ok. Just deduct that from another category. Once you’ve bought everything on your list, stop shopping! Avoid impulse spending! That’s the part that gets the most of us in trouble.
I’ve created a few printables that you may find helpful in planning and keeping your Holiday budget. Click on the following links to download PDF versions.
Have a great day!