It’s starting. We haven’t even gotten to Halloween yet and I’ve already seen Christmas items for sale in stores. While part of me is secretly excited, the other half of me dreads what the holidays can do to my bank account. While all of the seasons we celebrate are really about being thoughtful and enjoying the company of the ones we love, gifts and celebrations are sure to sneak their way in, which can really start to take a financial toll. If you start to prep your budget now, you’ll find yourself a lot less stressed once the holiday season officially begins. I’ve learned from my past mistakes, and I think I’d like to consider myself well-prepared this year. Check out a few of the guidelines I followed for getting my budget holiday-ready…
Start planning now. Will there be any parties or celebrations you’ll be attending or hosting? Will you be giving any gifts? Will you be traveling? Thinking of these kinds of things now can help you plan your budget for the coming months and make adjustments as needed. Use your current budget to determine how much extra you can set aside to save for holiday spending, and adjust accordingly, if needed. For example, I like to trim back on my “going out” money and some of my vacation savings to focus more on season-specific things, like gift-giving.
Save a little at a time. This was one of the best decisions I ever made! I found myself in credit card debt every year from going overboard on gifts, and it would take me at least a month or so to dig my way out of it. This year, I set aside a little money out of each paycheck strictly for this kind of spending (I based my total goal on what I typically spend on Christmas presents, and I divided that number up by 11 for how many months I’d be saving for). While it’s a little late to start this now, you can do a mini-version of it by determining how much money you can set aside from each of the paychecks you’ll receive between now and the end of the year. Keep this in mind for next time!
Prioritize. Now that you know what you have to work with, decide where it’s going. Are gift-giving and party-hosting at the top of your list, or would you prefer to direct more of your holiday budget towards charitable giving? Divide up your holiday budget to give you more specific spending guidelines.
Start shopping early. If you have an idea of what you’ll be buying, it can be a great idea to keep an eye out for sales or deals on any of those items you might see available now! I’ve not only found that I can save more money this way, but it also allows me to make adjustments to my budget, based on whether I over- or under-spend. Saving money allows me to direct anything extra I have to other priorities on my list, or even better, come in under budget!
Do it yourself. Want to save a little extra? Take on a few DIY projects! You can choose to do a number of things on your own instead of spending money on store-bought versions – think gifts, decorations, homemade cookies, etc. These things often end up being more cherished anyways, and your thoughtfulness will be appreciated!
Have the holidays crossed your mind yet? Are you doing anything to better prepare for them?