How To Save Time and Money and Enjoy Christmas on a Budget
It’s the middle of September, is it too early to talk about Christmas? Never! Even though it’s still 99 degrees here in Texas, that won’t stop me from being prepared when it comes to planning a Christmas budget. Are you in?
Ok, let’s do this.
To many, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. It’s great for so many reasons. The colder weather, bundling up next to the fire, cozy clothes, and blankets to stay warm, all the Hallmark Christmas movies, the family get-togethers, making great memories with your children and celebrating the birth of Jesus. It brings feelings of joy, love, and happiness with friends and family.
But then there’s the other side of the coin. The side of the holidays that brings a lot of stress and pressure. There’s the stress of cooking for big groups of people, keeping a tidy home for unexpected guests or get-togethers, traveling long distances with kids, and buying gifts for a countless number of people.
The holidays shouldn’t make you feel stressed out, it should be a time of celebration. But all too often we feel the pressure to live up to other people’s expectations or to what we see on tv with all the commercials that bombard us at that time of year.
But one way to alleviate that stress is to prepare ahead. If you prepare early, you will be ready to face the obstacles that get thrown your way. You will be better prepared to fix those problems and move on so you can enjoy your holidays with your loved ones.
Needless to say, I did not have a Christmas budget last year. And do you know what that got me? Into a bunch of debt. I was very behind on my bills until probably March or April. That’s not the way to stay off the new year. But it is a way to give you lots of anxiety! We definitely had a good Christmas, but we also paid for it big time afterward.
This year we are going to prepare early (and by ‘we’ I mean you and me). We will have a plan of action and follow-through, so we too can enjoy the time with our families and not have to worry about any repercussions.
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Plan Of Action
First, you need to decide who you will or may potentially be buying gifts for. You probably have the same family members that you buy gifts for every year. But don’t forget about any friends, co-workers, and Christmas parties you may need a gift for.
Download the Christmas Spending Action Plan from our Resource Library. You can get access here. In the action plan is a Christmas Gift List spreadsheet that you can keep track of the people, gift ideas, and estimated cost that you may spend.
Now, add up the estimated cost for each person to get a grand total of money you will need to save for. This is the amount you need for your Christmas budget.
Next, you need to acquire the money for your Christmas fund. So that means one of two things: either save from the money you already have coming in or earn extra money to put towards your Christmas fund. If you have been extra frugal, you may have already been saving throughout the year.
That’s an awesome way to not have to take such a big chunk of money all at once. But if you haven’t saved throughout the year now is the time. Can you work a few extra shifts or overtime in the next couple of months, do some extra side jobs, sell some of your stuff you don’t use anymore on resale sites like OfferUp?
Can you cut back on some of your usual spending habits for a couple of months? Do you go to Starbucks every day or pick up dinner to go on the way home? If you can cut back on some expenses you can put that money toward your Christmas fund.
Keep your Christmas fund money separate from your regular spending money. That way you won’t be tempted to spend it on other things. A good way to do that is to put your Christmas fund money on a pre-paid debit card, like a Visa prepaid card. You can get one of these at pretty much any store where they have the gift cards. Use it only for your Christmas spending.
Maximize Your Savings Potential
Look for sales throughout the holiday season. If you know what you are looking for you can pay closer attention to the sales ads and get extra savings off the things you were already going to buy.
Of course, if you wait until Black Friday or Cyber Monday you can get some big-ticket items. Certain items such as electronics are notorious for having bigger discounts on Black Friday. While other things don’t get that much of a discount. It may be better to buy some gifts when other sales are going on.
Another way to get extra savings is to buy discounted gift cards online from sites like giftcardgranny.com. If you download the PriceBlink extension onto your web browser, it will automatically look for lower prices on other websites when you do your online shopping.
You will get a little notification at the top of your browser to let you know there is a better deal on another site. Try it when you do your online shopping on Cyber Monday!
Depending on what you are looking for, try browsing sites like Offer Up, Let Go, VarageSale, and Facebook Marketplace. These are resale sites that you can find gently used, like new or new inbox items. I have found some great brand new items for deep discounts.
Don’t forget to download our Christmas Spending Action Plan from the Resource Library to help you start planning now for your Christmas budget. Prepare early so you don’t have the stress and pressure during the holidays. Use that time to relax and enjoy the time making memories with your friends and family.
Are you thinking of what gift to get for someone? Read my “Is A Planner A Good Gift?” blog post to get ideas.