Eliminating buyers remorse and staying within a predetermined Christmas budget is an easy way to keep your holiday season relaxed and stress free. It also helps to eliminate stress in the new year when the credit card bills typically come rolling in. I hope these tips and printable budget pages will help you have a more relaxed Christmas season!
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There are two main reasons people go way over budget during the Christmas season. Fortunately, both of these issues are completely preventable.
- They don’t have an established budget; or
- They don’t include all expenses that accompany the holiday season.
5 Ways to Stick to a Christmas Budget
Determine How Much You can Spend
The first thing you need to know before setting your Christmas budget is how much you can spend without going into debt. This includes not using credit cards. This is where many people get into trouble. They work their budget backwards. Instead of determining how much they can spend and planning accordingly, they list everything they need to purchase and then try to come up with the money to buy it all.
The Christmas season is no different from any other day of the year when it comes to finances. We must live within our means.
Ask yourself these questions:
How much have you saved for Christmas expenses?
How much excess funds do you have to spend without using your emergency fund?
Talk to Your Spouse
Talk to your spouse about your Christmas budget. The personality of a spouse will often offset that of their mate which will help counter the extremes in our spending habits. Get your spouse’s thoughts about who you should buy gifts for, what events you should attend, what travel you should plan for and what you should spend overall.
List All of Your Expenses
It is easy to forget many of the expenses that come along with the holiday season. To have a realistic budget, make sure you list them all. Here are some ideas of typical expenses and some that we tend to forget:
- Travel – including extra gas you will need for parties and local events you do not typically have to account for. (I usually increase my gas budget in December even if we are not traveling out of town.)
- Food – Plan ahead for the increase in your food budget needed to take pot luck dishes and appetizers to parties. Also consider the time you will spend shopping and preparing for events that will make it difficult to eat at home. For us, church Christmas play practices on Sunday afternoons sometimes make it necessary to eat out instead of eating at home between services.
- Clothing – Don’t forget to include any costumes needed for Christmas plays or parades. Think of events that may be held outside or those that might be more formal.
- Gifts – This is always the obvious expense for Christmas, but don’t forget those parties that you need to bring a small gift for exchange. Also, it doesn’t hurt to have a couple of small gifts wrapped for those folks who get you an unexpected gift.
Eliminate Unnecessary Expenses
Take a hard look at your expenses and eliminate what every you can. Are there events you can skip or would like to skip? Can you make smarter gift purchases to save costs? Can you hand make some gifts? Can you make a dish at home to take to a party instead of buying something to take. Consider all of the ways you could potentially save money this season.
After you have agreed upon a budget for holiday spending, set up a check in time with your spouse or other person who will hold you accountable. If both you and your spouse share the responsibilities of holiday shopping, hold each other accountable. Set up a time each week to review receipts and even check credit card statements on line if necessary. Be honest.
I’ve created some fun budgeting pages to add to your Relaxed Christmas Planner. These pages are designed to not only help you stick to a budget this year, but also plan for next year. Download them here.
Follow along via the social media links on the right see what’s happening with my family this season and be sure to share your Christmas budgeting ideas in the comments below!