We’re right in the middle of arguably the most expensive time of the year. Christmas is great for spending time with friends and family, as well as giving gifts. Too many times, though, people don’t properly plan for it and end up making a list of money blunders.
It may be paying for everything with a credit card, or buying gifts you can’t afford, or impulse buying, or waiting until too late and buying gifts because you’re desperate. The keys to not busting the budget are having a plan and knowing exactly what to spend. The less confused you are, the less money you’ll waste.
The Plan of Attack
- Make your Christmas budget as early as possible. So if you haven’t done it yet…DO IT NOW! It’s never too late. Keep it separate from your regular budget. Don’t put a separate “Christmas” category into your regular budget; give the Christmas budget its own sheet. List everyone you want to buy for, how much you can spend on them (remember, cash only), what they would like and where you can find it at a reasonable price.
- When you do the actual shopping, have a plan. Know which store you’re going to, how much you’re spending, and then stick to it. Get in, get it and get out. Don’t let yourself wander, because you’ll impulse-buy something and bust the budget.
- Get creative with your giving. How would it feel to budget $50 for someone’s gift, and then find an imaginative way to give them a nice $20 gift? Think of a gift that isn’t expected – maybe cooking someone their favorite dinner or volunteering to help someone with a project they are working on.
- Consider drawing names if you have a large family or a lot of people at the office to buy for. Don’t worry about someone being mad at you for not receiving a gift; don’t even be worried about not getting enough gifts from co-workers. You’d be surprised at how pleasant Christmas can be when you don’t spend tons of money or stress yourself out with trying to find many gifts for many people.
Last but not least, don’t think the spirit of Christmas is about “stuff.” You can have a giving spirit without having a negative checking account. Don’t forget the reason for the season.