How to Budget for Christmas and Avoid Going into Debt
With all the chatter starting on Christmas deals and items purchased for the giving season. Going into debt after giving of yourself and bank account is not likely to make your New Year’s very bright. Everyone has heard the saying “that it’s better to give than to receive, but that doesn’t mean you need to spend a fortune in the process”. Instead, do your giving in a sensible way. And try not to go overboard. Check out these ideas for creating a Christmas budget that will still allow you to celebrate the season richly.
Create a spreadsheet. Using your favorite spreadsheet program, create a spreadsheet with the headings: Gift Recipients, Budget, Actual, Gift Ideas and Leftover. Add in your accounts as you shop for your love ones. Keeping close tabs on your financial spending. The itemized listed above are the basics, but feel free to customize this spreadsheet for your specific needs.
Make a list of all your gift recipients. Determine the list of people who you are going to give gifts to this year. Try to keep the list confined to just those people that are closest to you, like your immediate family and closest friends. If money is tight this year you may want to agree to not exchange gifts with your friends or neighbors this year. I keep my list in a little black book. I write in pencil with ideas and prices I want to spend on others.
Establish a budget. Knowing what you are able to spend on Christmas is half the battle. Once you determine the amount you can spend, then everything else falls into place. List expenses that will include gifts, holiday cards, decorations, holiday food and other miscellaneous holiday expenses. If you are travelling for Christmas then you’ll also need to include expenses for travel, lodging and food.
Divide up the budget into categories. Next to each receiver you will need to put a budgeted amount that you want to spend on that person (you can included this in your spreadsheet).Don’t forget to account for Christmas cards and postage. The Christmas season usually mean big meals shared with additional people, so be sure to budget extra money for groceries for the month of December (start collecting all your coupons too) It’s also a good idea to designate an amount for unexpected expenses that pop up along the way, like wrapping paper, tape and shipping expenses.
Don’t use credit. Use only cash, check or debit card when doing your shopping so that you are not tempted to go over your budget. Using your credit card is so much easier, since you can not see the money you are actually spending. Set aside a an amount of cash in an envelope for each category. Mke sure that you keep your receipts in that envelope. This way you can track your purchases. Having the receipts may also come in handy if you need to return or exchange anything. Plus you never know when a rebate or two may pop up.
Avoid unnecessary expenses. Try to skip the things that you don’t really need. If you’re out shopping and a vente peppermint mocha from Starbucks sounds good, resist the urge and stick to your budget. Try to find items on sale or use a coupon whenever possible to reduce your overall expenditure. Starbucks offers deals too.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. If you go a little over for one person don’t get upset. It happens. Just try to save a little money somewhere else. You can still come out even at the end of the month.
There are many things to see and do for FREE during the Christmas season. Keep in mind what is important during this Christmas season. Don’t let stressing out over money overshadow your enjoyment, love and peace.
Are you ready for the Christmas Season??