The funny thing about the holidays is they have a way of creeping up on you and stressing everyone out. Of course, the actual shopping doesn’t bother me. I love the wrapping and activities. Doing Christmas on a budget and having enough money to make the Christmas I want a reality is the hardest part.
How to do Christmas on a budget
In order to make things happen I have to be very carefully about budgeting. There’s no reason to think that I’ll magically have more money in December than I do any other month so I have no choice but to set some money aside before that happens, or at least to pick up some things for as little as possible.
To keep my Christmas debt-free, I get started early. I also have to create a budget and stick to it.
Doing Christmas on a budget doesn’t have to be hard or complicated, just make sure you address all the following issues:
- List everyone who you are shopping for. Don’t forget to include family, friends, co-workers, charity, pets, etc. Brainstorm with someone else, if possible.
- Once you have your list, go down it and estimate how much you usually spend on that person. Write those numbers down, then total it up.
- If that number seems appropriate for you, and you can afford to save enough each month to reach Christmas with enough money, great! You’re done with these steps. Chances are if you’re hoping for a debt-free Christmas, though, you were overspending in the past.
- Time to pare it down. This is the hardest part of the budget. (Check out this article for tips on paring down your holiday gift costs.) You could cut it down by a percentage, cut people out entirely, or opt to spend less on extended family members. It’s really up to your budget, family situation, and what you’d like to purchase for Christmas. In some families, gifts are only given during holidays, and big gifts are promised and awaited all year. Others may buy things all year. I spend a little less on my oldest because I pay her cellphone bill.
- Take the total and figure out how much per month you need to have that money by December 1st. You don’t want to be last minute Christmas shopping after all.Either change your family budget to add that savings or figure out how much extra you need to earn in order to have enough saved.