The holidays are creeping up on us again; If you’re anything like me, you started this year out with the good intention or purchasing or making a few gifts each month as you went along throughout the year.
However, there always seems to be something that happens when you’re busy making plans…Life. You know what I mean, an appliance breaks down, the furnace clogs and has to be cleaned, your child lost one of his brand new shoes in a mud hole and suddenly you have to shell out another $20-50 for new ones.
Perhaps you are already ahead of the game, you put a lot of effort into planning the holidays and you manages to pick up a few gifts along the way. If not, don’t fret, your starting in the right place.
How To Budget For Christmas
It’s that time of year again! We’re all looking forward to the joy of Christmas, but some are also dreading the cost. How are you going to make your money stretch?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer, but there are a few things you can do in order to get the most bang for your buck this holiday season. Here are five tips on how to budget for Christmas:
1 Analyze income and expenses
Take a look at what you spend each month and see where cuts can be made without feeling too much pain. If nothing else, start by turning off lights when they aren’t needed and unplugging appliances not being used.
You might also want to cut back on going out for dinner and drink less coffee. These might seem like drastic measures, but cutting back a bit each pay can make a world of difference when it comes to holiday spending. If you’re currently in debt, then this should be your number one priority.
2 Cut down expenses
Use coupons or special offers from retailers that allow you to buy for less. For instance, if there is a store discount taking extra money off your purchase will help you stretch your dollar without feeling too left out in the cold this year!
Also, don’t shop impulsively and only buy items on sale which will save you up to 70% at your favourite stores. You can track sales by signing up with MyAlerts so you never miss another deal again.
3 Budget according to spending categories
Once you know how much money you actually have every month, allocate it accordingly. This might mean cutting back on some things and investing more in others, but the point is knowing your limits and sticking to them.
4 Think of ways to make some extra cash
Asking for gifts or offering to do some Christmas errands (like babysitting, baking cookies for neighbours or shoveling snow) are just some ideas that will get you a little bit closer to your goal. Everyone loves getting together during the holidays so why not get paid to do what you love?
Or if all else fails maybe try selling some items around your home instead of donating them this time around! You can also offer services like pet walking or house cleaning for a little extra cash.
5 Set a budget and stick to it
So, you have a plan all set up but how do you actually go about doing it? Well, the easiest way is setting a budget. If you don’t already have one in place, check out our suggested budgets below.
Each month add up your fixed expenses (like rent/mortgage or car payments), then add any variable expenses that might come up at certain times of the year (like Christmas gifts).
Subtract from this total from what you take home every month after taxes to get your monthly disposable income . Once this number is determined break it down into categories like groceries, shopping , entertainment or savings .
This way when you are in the store you’ll know exactly what you can afford to spend. If you don’t have a budget then it’s time to set one up!
Recommended Budget Planner Here is our recommended Christmas planner, with four categories per page for easy tracking. We suggest using this as an allowance tracker . However, if you want more details on how much to allocate in each category check out our suggested budgets below.
Create a Gift List
- Make a List of everyone that you plan on giving a gift to this year. (Sometimes it helps to plan for two extras: One gal, & One guy) Did you ever notice when you make a nice list, someone always gets forgotten?!
- Go down through your list and determine whether the gift should be a personal (individual) gift or a family gift.
For instance, for your own children you would choose personal gifts, but when choosing a gift for a neighbor’s child, you might choose a family gift for the household to enjoy.)
- For each person/ family, jot down a few things that the recipient enjoys. For instance, a hobby, their occupation, are they athletic, do they have a tendency to pamper their pets, etc.
- You’re almost done. Now comes the tough part. You need to determine a dollar amount that you plan to spend this holiday season. Once you come up with a grand total, then go down through your list and plug in numbers.
For instance, you might spend $25 on your Parents, $50 on your children, $5 on a neighbor, etc. Be as realistic as possible, and do not allow for gifts on your credit card. To avoid the Holiday Crunch (and the months of regret that follow) I’m going to show you how to give gifts you can afford.
- If you’ve completed everything above, you’re doing wonderfully. You now have a complete list of WHO you need gifts for, What They Like (half the battle), How much money you can afford for their gift, now all you have to do is decide what to give them.
1. Dylan — Individual— crafts, plants, computers, art, books — $5. — Gift: Craft Kit
2. Kathy— Individual— Gambling, Accountant, always has nice nails– $5– Gift: Casino Survival Kit & Manicure Gift basket
In order to make this project even easier for you, here are Free Printable Holiday Organizer and Full Holiday budget planner:
Free Organizer #2: Here is another Free Printable Holiday Organizer in Fall Colors
✔️ Plan for items such as entertainment, holiday meals for family gatherings, holiday photos, traveling, gift packaging and more.
✔️ Once you have made your list, it is quite easy to come up with inexpensive gift ideas that fit each person or family. Just think, you could create gifts for your entire list for less than $100 this year.
✔️ View Gift Ideas by Category
✔️ 300+ Stocking Stuffer Ideas for all Ages