Surviving the Holidays on a Budget
Christmas is over two months away but your Christmas budget may already be on your mind! In order to stay "merry" during this Christmas season, we'd like to offer some tips to help you survive this Christmas shopping season without breaking the bank.
Now that we've got Christmas on your mind, we'll start with our first tip:
1) Start your shopping early...but track your spending. A lot of times we'll forget what we've already purchased and continue shopping and buying gifts for someone when we've already exceeded our budget. Which leads to our next tip:
2) Make a Budget and STICK to it! And make sure everyone is on board with this budget. Once you have an amount established, make a list of everyone you would like to give a gift to. This list can get pretty long. Don't forget teachers, neighbors, scout leaders, employee gift exchanges, extended family, etc. How does this list compare to your budget? Establish an amount you would like to stick with for every person on this list. Do not exceed that amount! Remember, every person on your list doesn't need a store bought
3) Consider home made gifts like crafts or baked goods. Would your gift recipient enjoy a craft made by your or some baked goods? Remember to budget for the items needed to make home made gifts as they can add up quickly! Another great idea is to gift services. You could babysit for a young couple or offer yardwork. Think about what specialties and talents you can offer as a gift.
4) Resist the urge to buy last minute or impulse buys. If you are walking through the mall and find the PERFECT gift for someone and you have already exceeded your budget, you must weigh your options. Is this gift better suited than the one you have already purchased? Can you return the previous gift? Think through these purchases.
5) Pay in CASH! Dave Ramsey would be proud of this tip! Relying on credit cards to track your holiday spending will almost always cause you to over spend. If you have a plan, stick to it and use cash, you will be more willing to stay within your budget.
6) Remember, its ok to cut back. Consider discussing your plan with others that you have a gift exchange with. Perhaps they would like to cut back as well. Don't feel obligated to participate in the office gift exchange. You should never be embarrassed by your desire to save money! Discuss your plan for Christmas early with your kids so they know what to expect on Christmas morning. Get them involved in shopping for bargains. Consider buying a family gift that everyone can benefit from rather than purchasing multiple gifts for members of your family.
7) Non-gift expenses can add up! Don't forget to budget for extra groceries for family dinners and auto expenses for trips.
Don't forget that no matter what your financial situation is, it should not determine whether or not you have a joyous Christmas. Christmas is a celebration of our Lord's birth and although gift giving (and getting) is fun, we should always remember the true meaning of Christmas.