Ask Away...: How to Budget for the Holidays

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

How to Budget for the Holidays

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While I thoroughly enjoy the Holiday season, it can be chaotic and disruptive to my disciplined spending and to my budget, which is why I always plan ahead and set up a Christmas budget!! So I decided to share some tips with you and some instructions on setting up your very own spending plan!
Some Holiday Budget Tips:

*$* Gather all of the items you have that are new, unused and can be regifted. Put them all in a box (as you gather them or all at once) and make this your gift box where you can go to pick out gifts for people for almost any occassion.

*$* If you have a large family, suggest setting up a drawing so each member gets assigned just one person to buy for. And set a spending limit.

*$* Start saving a Christmas Spending fund a year in advance by adding $5 to an envelope every paycheck. It all adds up!!

*$* Home made gifts are a great way to save money and give a personal touch to any gift. I'll feature some next week so be sure to subscribe so you don't miss anything!

*$* Services can make a wonderful treat for family members. Get crafty and design a paper coupon voucher good for 1 car wash/lawn mowing/weed pulling, etc.

And here are some step by step instructions to create, plan, and execute your Holiday shopping and spending plan.


1. Make a List
Write down the name of every person you need to have a gift for.

2. Determine your spending limit.
Look at the amount you've saved up in your envelope and either divide it by the number of names on your list...or break down the amount per person on a one by one basis. If you want to budget more for your closer family or friends, now's the time to figure that out. Write the amount next to each person's name.

3. Decide on a gift for each person.
Does each person get a handmade item, a service coupon, or an actual monetary valued gift? Write down 2-3 gift ideas for each person if you can think of that many. Try to think of things they need. If you know your parents need a sofa cover, list that! Even regular everyday household goods make nice gifts. And..this is the important part..... go through your Gift box from the tip in the beginning of this post and shop it to see if there's anything you can regift to any family members or friends.... this is where the aunt of your boyfriend/husband/partner gets easier to shop for!

4. Plan out your shopping map.

This is the fun part for those of us that love planning and organizing EVERYTHING. First figure out what stores you are going to for each gift and write those down next to the gifts. If it's a crafty DIY item, write down the supplies you need and the stores you can get the supplies at.

5. Plan your actual shopping trips.
Decide what days you will do your online shopping and your in store shopping. Try to get it all done at once or in 2 -3 days. This way, you aren't rushed and you aren't stressed. If you can get multiple items at one store, that's a great idea for knocking out your list in one trip. If you want to take advantage of coupons or sales so you can make sure you get an item that your friends/family want, at the budget-approved cost..then this is the step you will do your research at!

6. Get some envelopes!
Place each persons cash in an envelope with their name on it. On the outside of the envelope write down the store and the item or items for them. When you end up shopping, make sure you group everything together by store and day.

7. SHOP!
Stick to what's on your list and what's in each envelope. When you get a receipt place it in each person's envelope. Take advantage of coupons and sales and DON'T use a credit card!

8. Plan a crafting and wrapping day.
This is when you will make some of your gifts and also when you will start the wrapping and packaging process. And if you're like me, you won't have to spend much on wrapping supplies because you stock up when it's on sale and you utilize gift bags, some of which you save from gifts you've received in the past!


Well, there you go... if you follow a budget, it will be a much smoother process.


But that's not all..... Here are some other items that cost money around the holidays and here's how you can save on them:
Food 

Make your own when you can, and try to make things from scratch using what you already have in your pantry. Plan out any meals or party contributions in advance so you don't have to rush all at once and buy everything. When the pressure is on, you don't make as wise of purchasing decisions. 


Cards
Take advantage of some discounts on popular sites such as SnapFish, Cardstore, or Walgreens where you can design your card, include a photo, customize text, and get a discount. They are always running specials! Try to keep your cards flat and simple so you don't have to break the bank on postage. Also, deliver cards when you can instead of mailing them. It's nice to get mail still so why not toss it in their mailbox when you know they aren't home!? 

Decorations 
Make your own or use Pinterest for inspiring ideas. Recycle what you already have by using it in different ways. Remember... decorations are only temporary so don't break the bank on them and AVOID the displays in stores or else you'll cave and buy a bunch of stuff you don't need. 


Hopefully, this post helps a lot of you with the next few weeks! Please let me know if you have any budgeting questions or any tips (comment below with your own tips!)

And be sure to check out my new book, Fixing Your Finances on Amazon!










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