Wow, it is November already. The stores are already filled with Christmas decorations and gifts ready to be purchased and sometimes we feel like there really is a Grinch stealing all of our joy by straining our finances. Here are some tips to avoid busting your budget during the holiday season.
- Write out a budget. List each person and how much you plan to spend on each of them.
- Include a budget for non-gift items like gift wrap, cards, pictures, postage, food, entertaining, decorations and any other seasonal purchases you might make.
- Decide how you will fund your budget. If you haven’t already put money away, you will need to determine how much to take out of each paycheck in the next two months.
- Use CASH! I can hear you groaning, but if you stop spending when your budgeted cash is gone, you will NOT go over budget!
- If you feel that you are more disciplined, I would set aside the money in your checking account and track every expense right beside your budget. I like to start with my budget, subtract each purchase and keep a running total of the money I have left to spend on each person and item. This is a good method for online shopping as well.
- Make adjustments as you go! You will always find that you spend more in some areas than you originally planned or you forgot some items entirely. I encourage you to get creative. The best gifts are those from the heart and not necessarily the most expensive.
- Include some giving in your plan. The Christmas season is a great time to help others who need it most. Add these items on your budget because it really helps keep our spending in perspective and it will give you the freedom to give when you find a worthy cause.
Whatever you plan for your spending this year, do not finance Christmas on credit cards. Each year, Americans find themselves paying for Christmas for much of the new year. Beat the real “Grinch” this year and start the new year free from holiday debt!