Create Your Holiday Budget Now 2


It’s that time of year again.  Christmas is fast approaching and with just a few paychecks left before it arrives, it’s important to plan for it.  If you haven’t already started shopping for gifts and other essentials, here are a few ways to put them into your holiday budget between now and then.

 

Put your holiday spending on a holiday budget. It's the perfect way to afford everything you want to buy this holiday season without breaking the bank!

 

Make a list and check it twice…

The first step is making your list.  By this time of year, you must have some idea what gifts you plan to give.  So put those items on a list along with retailer and prices.  Do some online research and find the best price. Then put the 2 retailers with the lowest prices on your list.  If your first choice of retailer runs out of stock and you can’t take a chance waiting for re-stock, you’ll have a backup.  Don’t just wander around a mall or department store trying to come up with inspiration.  Gather your inspiration online.  Browse Pinterest or Google for the gift recipient’s hobbies and interests.  When it’s time to buy, know where you’re going, what you’re getting, and how much you’re spending.  Don’t forget to include your friends, coworkers, neighbors, mailman, and whoever else you would normally give to.

Don’t assume that you need to buy some extravagant gift for everyone on your list.  Pinterest has some great ways to creatively give things like candy or hot cocoa mix.  It’s all in the presentation.  Where I work, I have 19 direct reports and it always takes a bit of creativity to come up with something I can give them for the holidays that doesn’t break the bank.  Similarly, my kids always seem to show up on Christmas with friends who tagged along so I like to have some small gifts under the tree for them too.  If it doesn’t happen one year, I put that gift away for the following year or just stuff them in the kids’ stockings if they are things they’ll use.

Without a plan, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other Holiday Sales can actually hurt more than they help.

How?  Without a plan, these sales can eat through your budget FAST and leave you with unnecessary credit card debt or behind on your bills for months.  Or both.  If you choose to participate in these sales, you MUST have your list made first and have a copy with you when you shop.  Whether you’re running from Wal-Mart to Best Buy or sitting on the couch shopping on your laptop at home, keep your list handy to refer to.  I”m not saying that if you find a 32 inch Smart TV for 60 bucks, you should pass it up.  But you have to know who you’re going to give it to and scratch an equal amount from your list.  You budgeted your shopping list for a reason.  Don’t sabotage it with impulse buys.  These sales depend on consumers who can’t pass up a great deal.  Use them to your advantage but don’t let them hurt your wallet.  If you know you’re going to want to take advantage of deals unrelated to your holiday gift giving, budget that too.  And then don’t go over your budget.

I’m not personally a fan of Black Friday shopping.  In my opinion, there is no deal out there worth the hassle of fighting crowds that size.  Besides, I’ve always noticed better sales for me on cyber Monday anyway.  And many times with free shipping as well.

Don’t forget the wrapping…

If you don’t mind grabbing whatever paper is in the bargain bin and a cheap roll of tape, great!  But if you’re like me and you like themed wrapping with coordinating paper, gift bags, tissue, ribbons and tags, you’ll need to put some thought into it.  You don’t want to blow the budget on paper that will likely end up in the trash at the end of the day.  Consider white butcher paper with an iridescent ribbon or maybe brown paper tied up with raffia for a more natural look.

And Decorations…

I can’t remember the last time I went Christmas shopping and didn’t pick up a new ornament or decoration of some kind.  If you’re the same way, you may want to write that into your Holiday budget.

Add the Holiday Meal to your list…

Holiday meals can be just as pricey as gift giving if your house is ground zero for the family’s Holiday festivities.  Make sure you don’t forget anything and know how much you are going to spend.  If you plan ahead, you’ll know if you need to decide to drop that cheesecake from the menu and just stick with pies and cookies.  Don’t disregard the time it takes to prepare the meal as well.  You’ll want to plan ahead and budget your time too.  Desserts and casseroles can be made ahead and re-heated.  There’s no need to break the bank with regard to time either.  Planning ahead will definitely make for a less stressful holiday.

Cookies…

Are you a homemade Christmas cookie kind of person?  I totally am.  I choose the cookies I’m going to make each year early in the season, gather a list of ingredients, and make sure to incorporate them over several shopping trips.  This way, the cost is absorbed into my regular food budget and I barely notice the difference.

Fit it all into your household budget…

Once you have your list made, start incorporating the food items and wrapping into your household budget right away.  Split up this list over the next few paychecks along with any items you know you will not be shopping for on the big sale days.  Add up the rest and plan your budget so that you can access enough cash to cover it all when it’s time.  My Credit Union gives me the option to transfer funds between my checking and savings and I can create additional sub-accounts under my savings for different purposes.  One of mine is Christmas.  Because I plan to shop on Cyber Monday this year, this will make it easier to transfer the amount I need for the day back into my checking account for use.  But it keeps it separate and accounted for until then.  If I were going to shop on Black Friday, I would actually work with cash or purchase a Visa or Mastercard gift card from my bank so I could leave my debit card at home while shopping.  But that’s not a concern for me since I would never voluntarily go out shopping on Black Friday.  I know a lot of ladies that wait all year for it but you won’t catch me anywhere near a store on that chaotic day.  Lol.  Alternatively, if you want to shop online but don’t have the option to separate out your savings, you may want to put cash aside and when the time comes, deposit it back to your account or purchase a gift card to shop with.  Make sure your deposit has plenty of time to post before you need to use your money.

Enjoy your stress free Holiday!…

No matter how you celebrate your holidays, you can make them stress free by planning ahead.  There’s no need to scramble the week before Christmas spending money you aren’t supposed to and causing chaos with your household budget.  If you do, it could take months to get it all back on track.  Instead, plan ahead to spend a predetermined amount each pay cycle before the holiday while also putting away enough to purchase gifts during the big holiday sales events.  Keep your Christmas list current with retailers and pricing and cross items off as you purchase them either from the retailers you chose or during a sales event.  Whatever you do, resist the urge to buy items not on your list unless you’re prepared to cross off items totaling the value of your off-list purchase.  I think you’ll find that you’ll be able to purchase more for less money without the stress that normally goes along with holiday shopping.  I know too many people that experience buyer’s remorse after the shock of learning how much they really spent on credit cards and out of their savings and checking accounts while shopping.  Stick to your list and to your budget and you can sip champagne and welcome in the New Year without the worry of making up for financial mistakes during the holidays.

 

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