The winter holidays are right around the corner and that can mean a devastating blow to your bank account. I hate shopping in December so I start going hard in November. I know some of you may think that I’m a huge keener, but the reason I started so early was that I wanted to stick to my budget.
Now I know what you’re thinking, “Karyn’s going to tell us to make ANOTHER budget… guhhhhh.” Yes, it seems like every time I write a post I’m suggesting that you make a budget, but for the holidays this can be crucial for whether or not you want to start the new year off with tons of new (and avoidable) debt.
So bear with me for a hot sec and let’s get started with how to create your holiday budget.
1. Figure out how much you can afford to spend.
The worst thing you can do is just dive right into shopping without know how much you can actually afford to splurge on. This will require you to look at your money and be very harsh about it. You need to make sure you have money set aside for the essentials (rent, food, transportation, internet, etc.) and then decide how much you WANT to spend. The key word is WANT. Everyone wants to spend more than they actually have because giving makes you feel all warm inside. You need to recognize that you may WANT to spend $500 but in reality you can only afford $200. Don’t let the WANT cloud your judgement.
2. Make a gift-receivers list (and check it twice)
Lists will be your BFF this holiday season. It will keep you focused and your wallet merry. By making a list of the people you’re buying for, you can go a step further and write beside their names how much you are able to spend on them. Once you have their monetary assignments it will make shopping for them easier. You can even write what you want to get them and how much the item costs. Now you won’t have to worry if you’ll have enough money for each person because you’ve already divvied up your budget.
3. Make a holiday expenses list (check this one too :D)
Again with the lists, but gosh they are the best to keep you on track. Just like with number two, make a list of all the things you will be spending money on. If you are hosting a party you will need food, decorations, and drinks or maybe you’re being active and going skiing, taking a winter road trip, or are flying out to see the fam. These are all expenses that you will need to plan for. On your list it should specify what each thing is that you’ll be buying and how much it is. This way you can make sure you are within your budget or even see if there are things that you really don’t need and can cut back on.
4. Set a price limit with your friends/family
When you’re shopping for oodles of people it helps to create a set price limit. This way instead of worrying that someone is going to drop mad cash on you (cash that you may not have to reciprocate) you’ll be shopping within a set price that you’ve all agreed on.
Now I bet you’re thinking, “Um, Karyn it’s the thought that counts behind the gift, not the price.” And hey, I wholeheartedly agree with you, but by setting a limit of $30 it will give you peace of mind and help you stick to your budget. Plus, it will get your creative juices flowing when it comes to buying (or even creating) your gift.
5. Secret Santa/ Secret Snowflake it up
If you have a large family or friend group, buying a gift for each person can seem like an impossible task. Instead of worrying how faint-worthy your credit card bill will be, try Secret Santa/Snowflake. Get everyone to put their names in a hat and each of you choose a name. The person you pick out is the person you’ll be buying a gift for. Incorporate this with number four on this list to make your wallet joyful and triumphant.
6. Track your spending
Once you start getting into the swing of things it’s easy to get carried away. In the midst of all of those holiday sales and buying things online it’s almost too easy to go over-budget. To avoid this you should write down everything you spend. At the top of the sheet should be the amount that you’ve determined you can spend. With each purchase you should be writing down what you bought and how much it cost. You should also be subtracting from the grand total at the top and writing down the new total after each purchase.
It could look a li’l something like this.
This will help you stay within your budget. If you have money leftover you can either save it away for a rainy day or get yourself a li’l sumthin’ sumthing for all of your hard work
The key is to start now. If you want to have a stress-free and debt-free holiday, the sooner you get started, the better.
Do you have any holiday saving tips? Share them with us in the comments!