7 Ideas to Budget for Holiday Expenses
How hard is it for you to budget for your holiday expenses? December is such a wonderful time of year for most people. It’s that time of year to spend time with family and friends, eat special treats, and exchange gifts. While it can be a time of good cheer, and affection, it can also be a time of pressure to meet expectations, and the obligations of gift giving and celebration. Is it necessary to cut back on Christmas gift buying, and celebrating, if you’re strapped for cash? The reality is that few people actually save for this special occasion. So many people tend to spend money that is beyond the monthly budget in the month of December often having little to no extra cash or savings to cover the costs. Sadly, many live pay check to paycheck, so when Christmas rolls around, it can put a strain on finances making the holidays stressful. After the highs of opening gifts on Christmas day, there can be a sense buyer’s remorse. Starting the new year under financial strain is NOT good, and it can have devastating effects on relationships and even future financial stability.
Here are some very SIMPLE ways to NOT break the bank during the holidays. It’s not necessary to completely cut back on spending, because with a little creativity, when the holidays roll around, you can be set with money set aside, ready to go, for gift giving and celebrations . Some of these ideas can be started any time of the year. You can even use them at the beginning of the year to get a head start to saving the coming year’s holidays! Others are just traditions & ways to celebrate holidays without the excessive spending.
- Create a tradition of the following rhyme of the 4 Gifts of Christmas. “Something you want, something you need, something to do, something to read.”Basically, each person creates a list with the things that they need, want, and read which is explanatory. “Something to do” means a lesson, trip to a museum, an instrument, a magic book, a game to play, a craft to make, or some activity that encourages growth and/or interaction. It can even be a homemade coupon book with opportunities to spend time together. Oftentimes we splurge for Santa. Instead, push aside the lust of wanting more, to refine your tradition to give these four more meaningful gifts instead. Kids can still write letters to Santa. Santa still can bring a gift or two. He can play the same role in this tradition. It simply limits the excessive mile long list of toys and gadgets that the children often ask for at Christmastime.
- Buy gift cards throughout the year from stores where one gets fuel points. Save up the cards to fund Christmas presents in December. Look for opportunities where there are double fuel points per purchase to further expand the savings. Doing this spreads out the sudden costs of Christmas by gradually spreading it out over the year in increments, using the cards as “savings” for holiday spending. It saves money, gives discounted gas, and with using the cards for the holiday it’s a total Win-Win!
- Be like the squirrels and use a program like Acorns to stash money all year. Use the money saved to pay for Christmas gifts in December. Acorns rounds your purchase up to the nearest dollar. That money deposited then goes into an account, and builds a savings with each cents amount stashed away. It adds up quickly! I have heard of people using it to buy christmas and birthday gifts. This helps you save without putting much thought in it.
- Do a name exchange and buy the person whose name you receive, and likewise, buy for others in your group. This idea is a great one to do with extended family and friends. Add a “theme” like white elephant, food that reminds you of them, ugly sweaters only, under $5, smells like them, or practical jokes —the ideas are endless to add to this idea. It can be exciting to see how others view you, or what they can come up with.
- Buy Christmas gifts throughout the year. This spreads out the expense of Christmas shopping and won’t affect the budget in December as much. Watch for sales throughout the year, and buy what your monthly budget can afford.
- Make it a tradition to exchange handmade gifts. This does NOT mean “bought handmade”, but legitimately handmade gifts made by each person. You could also do special letters, family pictures, or items that one already has that they can recycle to give as gifts. Less consumerism is good for the environment true? This one could make for a very special intimate Christmas with memories that will be cherished!
- Celebrate Christmas AFTER the 25th! Now this one seems a little “out there” but years ago I’d heard of a woman who would celebrate Christmas two week after Christmas and would buy her presents using many of the “After Christmas” sales. Apparently, this worked for her, and her kids didn’t think much of it because they had been doing for years long before they’d even had kids!
These ideas can help to get you on track for the coming holidays with some requiring very little effort. It all depends on how flexible you want to be, and how much planning you’re willing to do! Hope these ideas get your thoughts rolling on ways you can make it less burden on the wallet for this year’s gift giving or holidays to come!
How do you budget for the holidays?
What methods do you use to make it less of a burden on your finances?
Wishing you all The Luck of a Magpie!