Have you started purchasing Christmas gifts yet? Do you have a budget? How are you planning to finance your holidays?
The holidays are coming…you know that, right?
I know, it’s early. It seems like the Christmas season starts earlier and earlier every year. I’ve seen Christmas décor in stores starting in September, it’s crazy! Do you have a Christmas budget?
What’s even crazier is knowing an expensive holiday comes around each year and not planning for it!
Between the gifts for pretty much everyone you know: parents, grandparents, spouse, children, teachers, bus drivers, childcare providers, garbage collectors, mail person, hairdresser…the list (and spend) can get exhaustive! That’s on top of travel, secret Santa gift exchanges at work, neighborhood get-togethers, ugly sweater parties, etc.
- Where do you draw the line?
- How do you decide who to buy for?
- When do you start purchasing?
- How do you set your budget?
Don’t wait to start budgeting!
Why not start answering those questions now while you have time to plan and budget for these things. Depending on your pay cycle, if you’re paid bi-weekly like I am, you only have 10-12 paychecks left before the holidays roll around. Don’t wait until December to start “saving” for the holidays!
I’ve always been good at budgeting for the holidays. Well, all gifts actually.
At the end of the year, I plan out every known birthday, anniversary and Christmas gift for the following year, and give each person for each occasion a budget. Then I total it. I’ll then add an extra hundred dollars or two to the total and divide by 26 paychecks in the year.
That’s how much I set aside each month in a gift fund so I’m prepared when the time comes. Because I plan in advance for it, it becomes a line-item in my budget like anything else. And when unexpected items come up, I use the overflow that I knew I’d need, or shift dollars around.
If you don’t have a budget, that’s fine. You still have time. Start writing a list of everyone and everything you think you need to buy for, and divide by the number of paychecks you have left this year. If you’re short or you don’t have enough disposable income to set aside that much each month and keep your current budget afloat, then you’ll have to get creative.
Why wait until the last minute?
Don’t wait until the last minute to purchase gifts. You’re just asking to overpay! Why not keep an eye out for gifts throughout the year and purchase when you see a good fit for a recipient on your list at a good price?
I’m from Wisconsin and always on the lookout for cheap Badger, Packer, or Brewer gear. I scored an Aaron Rodgers Jersey and Green Bay Packer winter hat for my nephew for $23.00 total for both pieces.
Seriously, that’s unheard of! And just like that, his name is crossed off my Christmas shopping list in June. He’s going to be over-the-moon-excited, and I stayed well within budget.
You don’t have to wait until Black Friday to shop!
Don’t fall into the trap of believing that Black Friday and Cyber Monday have the best deals. I can tell you from personal experience that they don’t always. You can find just as good, if not better deals throughout the year if you keep your eyes peeled.
I’ve seen Dyson vacuums, my personal favorite, with a better deal online outside of typical holiday shopping windows. I love this cordless vacuum so much I have gifted it to my sister as a wedding gift and my parents as a Christmas gift.
Christmas budget tips you should use now!
Below are my tips to encourage you to start thinking about holiday shopping today. You have a few months to start saving so you can actually enjoy the holiday’s laster!
1. Make a list, and check it twice.
Shop early and shop year-round! Take advantage of seasonal shopping throughout the year. Have a sports fan on your list? Wait until the season is over and look for seasonal clearance. Same goes for seasonal clothing and gear. Why not stock up on summer gear for your children or nieces and nephews for the following summer? Maybe a new bathing suit and beach town to get them excited about summer.
2. Create a Christmas fund.
Estimate how much you think you will need for holiday spending and outline a plan for how you are going to pay for it. Maybe you can make it work by dividing the total you think you need by the number of paychecks you have left before December.
If that isn’t enough: can you trim your Christmas budget? Or are there other areas in your monthly budget today that you’d be willing to forego to afford the holidays? Stop eating out. No more Starbucks. Start putting aside every $1.00 or $5.00 bill you have in your wallet. You will be amazed how quickly money starts to accumulate this way.
3. Start putting your “under-budget” money aside.
Meaning anytime you come in under your monthly budget in other categories like groceries or clothing, put that money aside for future expenses. That money can be put toward your Christmas budget!
4. Plan for the unexpected.
The holiday concerts, donations, photos with Santa, unexpected gifts you feel compelled to reciprocate, etc.. Pad your budget to ensure you have money to cover things that inadvertently appear during this time.
5. Create a post-Christmas shopping list.
We all know holiday items go on sale right after the holiday. Stock up on cheaper gifts, wrapping paper, ornaments, stocking stuffers, etc. after the holiday is over so you’re all set for next year. Just make a list before you go out and about or you’ll risk buying things you didn’t really need.
Save now, party later
By starting early to save and purchase for Christmas, it allows you to relax and actually enjoy the holidays. Rather than scrambling around at the last-minute shopping and wrapping, start now! Your Christmas Budget will thank you when November comes around.
When do you start purchasing for the holidays?
Take one small step today – to help your finances tomorrow,