Many people I know don’t embrace a budget.
I used to hate the “b” word too, but my opinion of keeping a budget has changed quite a bit over the past several years. This is mainly because of the benefits my family has enjoyed from minding our budget, but also partly because I changed the way I define this word. Instead of reminding me of all the things I can’t have, I choose to let the budget symbolize all the things I CAN have, within boundaries.
These boundaries extend to the holidays.
The budget shouldn’t and doesn’t go away during the Christmas season. Having a spending plan plays a crucial part in eliminating holiday stress. I know so many families who break the bank and max out their credit cards when buying Christmas presents, clothes and food for holiday parties, making travel arrangements, and the list goes on. Bottom line? Overspending brings stress. There’s no way around it.
Here are a few tips to help you stay within your budget this Christmas:
Be purposeful in giving.
Make a list of the people you want to buy for and how much you’ll spend on each person (or family). Also make a note of some gift ideas that fall into the set price range so you’re less likely to buy impulsively and spend more.
When you make your list, go back over it and ask yourself “why am I buying a gift for this person?”. If you’re buying for them under compulsion or impulse, remove them from the list. If they’re not a close relative, someone you share a close friendship with or part of a gift exchange you’re involved in, reconsider whether you need to give a gift at all.
If you are part of a large family or a large group of friends, consider drawing names for gift giving. This allows you to pool more resources into just one nice gift that will cost less than buying something lesser for everyone.
If you can’t afford it, put it back.
- Baked items are wonderful for the working mom or mom of toddlers who who may not have the time or energy to bake.
- Watch Daily Deal Sites to save big on vouchers to local restaurants or specialty retailers.
- Give a gift basket of items you can purchase from several different places so you can hunt for the best deals.
- Give a gift of services such as “free babysitting” for the couple who has no family close by or “free laundry services” for a college student.
This is also where shopping all year comes in. It allows you to take advantage of the very best deals a little at a time. Or if you know you’d like to spend a little more on a gift, you can plan for it all year. This will give you time to compare prices, look for deals, use coupon codes, etc.
Make a List.
Make another list and write down all the other expenses you’re likely to incur over the holiday season so nothing takes you by surprise.
Don’t forget to include these items that are often forgotten:
- Wrapping supplies
- Postage and shipping
- Hostess gifts
- Party clothes
- Babysitting for holiday events
Writing it all down helps you to see the big picture and makes it easier to note which things you can cut back or cut out.
Let Guests Be Blessed.
Hosting the Christmas dinner at your house can be quite expensive, but how many times do guests ask “what can I bring?” and we tell them, “just yourselves”?
What we often fail to remember is that guests receive a blessing (as do we) when we allow them to participate in hospitality. Change your answer and give them something specific to bring like a bottle of wine, a dessert or an appetizer.
You’ll help your budget and they’ll be blessed too!
Recycle. Repurpose. Reuse.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the commercialism and trendyness of Christmas and before you know it, you’ve spent a small fortune on new decorations.
If you need to refresh your decor or just update it, consider recycling, repurposing or reusing what you already have. Sometimes it’s as simple as repainting, restyling or simply using an item for a different purpose that makes it completely new.
Here are some ideas:
- Repurpose Christmas cards into wreaths, placemats, tree ornaments and more!
- Make a Christmas bulb wreath or garland.
- Repurpose mason jars into cute Christmas decor.
- Turn extra Christmas lights into unique decorations.
Don’t stop at reusing your old Christmas decorations. Do a Pinterest search…you probably have lots of unused items around your home that you can turn into beautiful Christmas decor.
Sometimes we have the intention to save money by making our own decorations, but in the long run our little projects end up being a big expense. Do the math before you jump in. Make sure you’re really saving money over buying new.
Focus on what really matters
You might also consider these 2 Ways to Save $1300 in a year!