The holiday season can be a daunting time for your wallet. You may be paying off debt from last year's gifts and activities. Budgeting, saving, and planning for Christmas can help you stay focused and on top of your finances. This month, I will talk about your Christmas budget.
Have you started thinking about your gift list for Christmas this year? If you have, good for you! Most of us are still recovering from last Christmas. Although you may not have a Christmas list from your kids yet or thought about what you want to buy your spouse, that doesn't mean you can't start budgeting for it. A budget can save you from impulse shopping or racking up unwanted debt on your credit cards. I want to help you spend cash you allot for Christmas instead of spending the next year paying off the debt you accumulated. It is a vicious cycle you can avoid if you have a budget.
Christmas should be a time of joy and spending time with loved ones. Lets face it, money and debt can cause you to lose sight of those things. So, lets talk about how you can remove some of the stress from the holiday season.
You may not know what you are going to buy, but you can decide how much you want to spend. Consider writing out a list of people you typically purchase gifts for each year. Many people shop for their kids, parents, spouse, and friends but don't forget about others you may shop for like a coworker or neighbor. I would recommend you budget a little extra as a "Just in case" gift fund. That is, just in case you forgot to put someone on the list.
It can be tricky figuring out how much you want to budget for each person. You can start by setting an amount per person (i.e. $10, $15, etc.). Try to select a reasonable amount you can afford and are okay with spending. Remember, it is the thought that counts not how much you spend on your gifts. You can find thoughtful gifts at a reasonable price if you budget and start looking early. I will talk about this more later. Whatever amount you pick, write it down and try to stick it when you shop.
Once you have everything on paper, decide what you may spend on your children. I save my kiddo for last because she costs the most. Now, add up all your figures and that is your budget. You can divide your budget by 11 and that is how much you need to save each month. If you think your budget is too high, go back and adjust your amounts. Keep your budget somewhere you can find it like in your phone or a planner. The goal is to stick as closely to this budget as you can this year.
Next month, I will talk about how you can start saving now to meet your Christmas budget goals. Side note, you can make a budget for Christmas activities and meals as well. Budgeting saves time and money. This month's goal is to BUDGET!