Tips & advice on getting your finances back on track.
Fall is here! And it’s wonderful but…Christmas is only 12 weeks away. If that makes your pumpkin spice latte taste sour when you think of the hit your bank account is going to take, then maybe it’s time to make a Christmas budget to get you through the season financially unscathed.
Taking the time to sit down and make a plan and budget for the holidays will not only save you time but also money! And don’t think of having a budget as restraining. Having a budget actually sets you the free. You’ll know how much you can afford to spend for the holidays and that you won’t be left struggling in the New Year with out of control credit card debts.
Even if you’re careful about your Christmas spending, it’s extremely easy to overspend during the holiday season. Having a concrete plan will make it easier to stay on track. So, here’s how to set yourself up for Holiday shopping success!
Step 1: All Aboard the Saving Train!
Avoid tension with your spouse by getting on the same page right at the start. Make sure you are both in agreement about what the budget should be and meet regularly throughout the season to make sure that you’re both following the plan that you’re about to devise. Work together as a team!
Step 2: Plan the work and work the plan
Once you and your spouse are in agreement on planning for the holidays, break out your budget. Don’t have one? Well, now is the time to set one up. Here’s a link to Creating a Budget to get you started.
Now, back to Christmas, how much do you normally spend on Christmas? Don’t forget, this includes more than just the presents. There’s food, decorations and greeting cards to purchase as well.
Think through of how much you’ve spent in previous years and decide if you should continue spending that much or if it needs adjusting.
Set what your budget will be before you create your list of who you are buying gifts for. Fit your shopping into your budget not your budget into your gift list.
Step 3: Who makes it onto your “Nice” List?
Create a list of who you will be purchasing for. Don’t forget to include any charitable donations you would like to make and gifts for teachers etc. Put an amount of money against each person’s name and stick within your budget! Having a set amount will make you focus on a quality gift and less likely to purchase ‘stocking stuffers’.
There are some great free apps you can add to your phone that will help you track your planned spending and purchases. Apps like Christmas Budget Lite, Christmas Planner Gifts or The Christmas Gift List Life.
Keep your budget in mind if you go shopping on Black Friday. Don’t get carried away because something is a great deal. If it’s not on your list or in your budget, it’s not a great deal.
Step 4: Set the menu
If you’re cooking for a crowd try to have some of the dishes provided by your family or friends. Same goes for any beverages you’re planning on serving. Although it can be a point of pride to do all the cooking of the festive meal yourself, that also means you’ll be purchasing all the ingredients too. Share the load of not only the cooking but the cost of the meal with your guests. Most people are only too happy to help out.
Read more: 5 Money Saving Tips For Holiday Spending
Step 5: Think ahead ….. next Christmas….
Is a Christmas or Holiday Fund the answer?
The sooner you set your Christmas budget, and I’m talking about January here, the sooner you can plan what you’d like to spend and purchase for those on your list. You can keep an eye out for deals during the year. If you can manage to plan a year in advance it will take the stress out of the Holiday season.
Divide your budgeted amount by 12 months and stash that amount of money each month in your Holiday Fund. Consistently adding to the fund each month will put you in good shape when the holidays come around. You’ll have a budget ready to go (with some minor tweaks and updates) and the funds waiting in the Christmas account that you’ve set up. That’s a stress free holiday!
Lori Stratford is the Digital Marketing Manager at Navicore Solutions. She promotes the reach of Navicore’s financial education to the public through social media and blog content.