Create A Christmas Budget That Will Keep You Out of Debt
Something happens as soon as the holiday season is over. We forget. We forget about how much money we spent, how we resorted to credit cards, how much we swore we’d plan better next year. If this sounds like you, then listen up…you have to create a Christmas budget sooner rather than later to cure yourself of holiday amnesia.
If you don’t, create a Christmas budget, you’ll keep repeating the same mistake over and over again!
Statistics show us that those of us who plan for the holidays have a better shot and ensuring they are debt free than those of us who just wing it. Here's how to create a budget that will have you prepared and excited for the holidays. Yes, Christmas is 10 days away, and we realize your shopping may already be done. Feel free to use these tips next year as well!
1. Make Your List
The first place to start is with your gift giving list. If you’re tight on money, this is the place you’ll more than likely have to make some cuts. Remember as you think about your list, only include the most important people on your gift giving list. Nothing and almost no one is worth getting into debt over.
Go ahead and make your list. Think about all the people you want to buy a gift for:
Family – aunts, uncles, children, spouse, cousins, siblings, grandparents, and even the cat. Include everyone you WANT to give a gift to.
Co-workers – partners, bosses, co-workers, support staff
Friends – neighbors, fellow volunteers, church friends
Those who provide services – nail tech, hairdresser, paperboy, mail carrier, yard worker, pool cleaner, teachers
Anyone else? Put them on the list.
Don’t forget to add all the other incidentals that you’ll need to pay for.
Wrapping paper and bows
This is just a starting list!
2. Determine How Much You Can Afford
Take a look at your finances and decide how much money you can realistically set aside for Christmas this year without relying on credit cards. If you have a Christmas fund already established, and you’ve been diligently putting money aside each month, then you pretty much already know what’s available to you for Christmas. If not, get out the calendar and start calculating, based on your monthly spending plan what’s open for Holiday shopping.
Don’t do this step after you’ve made your list of gifts to buy. You might end up very disappointed that you don’t have enough, which might lead you to want to use your credit cards. Instead, do this step FIRST.
Know what you’re working with and then make the commitment to stick to this plan. Remember it’s easier to stick to your plan than to try to stretch it beyond its capacity.
Don’t forget, your budget isn’t just for gifts. You’ll need to include the money you will need to spend on holiday parties, food, decorations, gift wrapping supplies, stocking stuffers, etc.
3. Go Back to Step #1 and Make Some Cuts
When I started making changes to the way I managed and spent money, I had the most difficulty during the holidays cutting people off my Christmas list. I finally had to come to the realization that while it’s nice to give to my kid’s teachers, the mailman, and the paper boy, it’s not necessary.
If your budget can’t support buying for all the “extra” people – then trim your list and cut them out.
I’m a big believer in getting people what they want, provided it fits into the budget. This way they get what they want, and you spend your money on something you know they will like. It’s also a very stress-free way of gift giving – and that’s our aim here.
The point here is to see what money you do have available, and then parcel it out according to a specific spending plan. Remember to identify the monies that will be needed for holiday food, wrapping supplies, stocking stuffers and the like.
5. Stick To The Budget
You’ve got the holidays mapped out. Maybe you don’t have as much money saved as you had hoped but you made a promise to have a debt-free holiday.
I know it might be hard to stick to this pledge, but believe me, in the end when you don’t have to worry about any additional credit card debt you’ll be happy knowing you did what you needed to do to have a debt-free Christmas.