Can you believe that Christmas will be here in just a few months!?! This year has gone by so fast. While the most magical time of year is nearly upon us, there’s nothing magical about budgeting for Christmas. I love the holiday season, but it can be a very stressful time financially if you aren’t prepared. Keep reading if you want to learn how you cross off everyone on your list this holiday season without going into debt. It may even be your first time ever having a debt free Christmas.
Make a list
First things first, you have to know exactly who you plan to purchase gifts for. Do you have a big family and only plan to purchase gifts for the kids? Does your family do a secret Santa? Should you include your friends and coworkers? The amount of people you have to purchase gifts for is the most important step. This helps you set your budget and adjust accordingly.
Create a budget
Remember, a budget is just a spending plan for your money. After you determine who you plan to give gifts to, figure out a reasonable amount you’d like to spend. Be sure to set a realistic budget, so that you don’t go over. It’s best to have more than enough rather than not enough. I try to spend no more than $25 per child and $50 per adult.
Begin saving early
A year-round savings plan is optimal, but it’s not too late if you’re just getting started. It’s best to start early so that you can have a debt-free holiday season. By saving early, you’re able to save just a little each week and if you spot something on sale, you can pick it up without it affecting your budget. We have our Christmas savings in a separate savings account, but you can opt to save in cash as well.
Think outside the box
If you’re a great baker or enjoy making crafts, consider using your talents to help keep your budget intact. A lot of people love homemade gifts. Something as simple as homemade ornaments with a photo of your kids for the grandparents is a great start. You could even start a tradition that they’ll look forward to every year.
Include food + decor costs
A lot of times, we forget to include the costs of Christmas dinner and any new home decor we plan to add to our home during the season to our holiday budget. Be sure to leave room in your budget for these things as well. That way, your normal budget goes untapped and you’re able to still meet your debt payoff and/savings goals.
Look for free activities
Focus on creating memories with your family rather than spending a lot of money. Drive around and look at Christmas lights, drink hot chocolate while watching your favorite holiday movie, or look for free winter activities in your community for your family.
It’s so hard to look at what everyone else is buying around the holidays. Start a gratitude journal to keep yourself from comparing what you have to others. Stuff doesn’t equal happiness. Don’t let others make you feel bad for not shopping excessively trying to have it all.
Utilize cash back apps
Shopping through cashback apps such as Ebates, Ibotta or Dosh is a great way to save money on items you planned to purchase anyway. Who doesn’t love saving money? All three apps are free for you to sign up for, and you can save on items purchased at your favorite online stores and even during your grocery run. Not only will you be able to cross everything off your list, but you’ll be able to make your budget dollars stretch. Win-win!
As of late, we’ve forgotten that Christmas, and the holidays in general, should be about cherishing our time with the people that we love. Not spending our last buying lavish gifts that others may never use. Just because you plan go save money this year, that doesn’t mean you won’t have an enjoyable holiday.
How do you plan to save money this Christmas?