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The holiday season can be stressful on your budget. It’s that time of year where it can be full of Christmas budget busters.
You know all those pesky little items you forget or don’t plan for that seep into your budget and steal your money.
Spending usually goes off-course and you end up in debt. If you made a budget for your spending last year and still went off-track, you may be wondering how that happened and how you can avoid it again. Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
The holidays are full of love and joy; our hearts are overflowing with the love we have for the people in our lives and we want to show them how much they mean to us by buying them gifts. Often times, more gifts than we planned.
Add to that the temptations all around us to shop and spend.
From the store displays to the holiday sale papers to the commercials on TV; we’re surrounded by companies who want us to open our wallets and buy all the great things they have to sell. And we do! We do it because of all the love and joy we’re feeling.
It’s almost hypnotic.
This was so me many years ago. I would literally be hypnotized by the sights, sounds, smells and of course, those pesky commercials so much so that I would overspend and get into serious debt each holiday.
I’d rationalize this by saying I’d pay it off with my tax return money.
But every year my debt got larger and my tax return money couldn’t cover it all. Eventually, I ended up with over 50K in debt and no way out.
But when January comes around and the credit card bills arrive, you might be wondering what happened to that great budget you created and how you now owe so much.
Or maybe you tried to be good with your spending and only paid with your debit card so you wouldn’t go into debt.
When that bank statement arrives and your balance is lower than you expected, it can lead to a little stress and worry about how you’ll replace those funds.
That’s why what I’m going to share with you today is so important.
Unless you don’t mind the huge credit card bill at the end of the holiday season, I’m going to show you how you can go into the holiday season armed with the tools you need to keep those Christmas budget busters at bay.
CHRISTMAS BUDGET BUSTERS
There are several ways your budget can get off track over the holiday season. Here are a few of them, see if you can relate:
If you didn’t start with a written budget, you just “guesstimated” how much you would spend on each person, then you have no way of tracking your spending or knowing if you’ve spent too much. It’s so easy to be tempted with more shopping and even easier if you don’t have a budget already in mind so you can determine if you’ve reached it.
ON THE LITTLE EXTRAS
If you started with a budget but didn’t include absolutely everything, then it wasn’t a good working budget.
Maybe you decided at the last minute to buy gifts for your co-workers or you volunteered to buy a gift for a child in need but forget to add it to your budget. Maybe you decided to have a few friends over to celebrate with and didn’t budget for your impromptu holiday party. Or maybe you budgeted only for the big gifts and forget to add in stocking stuffers because “they’re just a few little things.”
Here’s something that may surprise you . . . those “few little things” can add up to $50-$100 on average per stocking!
Another way your holiday budget can go off-course is with your travel plans.
If you’re planning to travel for the holidays to visit family and you’ve planned to stay two nights at a hotel then end up staying an extra day, your travel budget is now blown.
Or maybe you were planning a potluck dinner with friends to celebrate then at the last minute you decided to go out to a restaurant or you decided to prepare all the food yourself. A dinner out or preparing food for a whole crowd is a lot more expensive than preparing one dish so your budget gets hit hard with that extra expense.
Fortunately, there are ways to stay on budget this holiday season so you can avoid the stress of debt when January comes around.
HERE ARE A FEW TIPS TO KEEP YOUR BUDGET ON TRACK THIS HOLIDAY
BUDGET, BUDGET, BUDGET
It can’t be said enough! The best, and easiest, way to avoid overspending is knowing in advance exactly how much you can spend.
Budget for every single person you have to buy a gift for including your co-workers, friends from church, neighbors, and babysitter. Absolutely everyone!
If you’re going to give some people baked goods instead of an actual gift, put them on a separate list so you can properly budget for the groceries you’ll need to buy.
If you’re planning a holiday party, set a budget for how much you can spend including food, drinks, paper goods, and decorations.
Plan for every “little thing” too like stocking stuffers, wrapping paper, and cards.
Use our Christmas Budgeting Bundle found in the Free Resource Library to manage all aspects of your holiday budget!
CHECK YOUR LIST – TWICE
Double check your list to make sure you have everything on it. Give it to your spouse to look over just to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything; a second pair of eyes to check your list is always a good idea.
Don’t forget to use the budgeting templates found in the Free Resource Library so you can stay on track and on budget this holiday season.
CUT BACK – A LOT IF YOU HAVE TOO
If your budget ended up being higher than expected, it’s time to cut back. Look for ways you can trim your budget.
Suggest a gift exchange at work instead of buying a gift for everyone. Make a few DIY gifts; they’re more meaningful anyway. Some ideas might include making your own cards, handmade soaps or candles, writing a poem, baking special treats, or knitting a blanket.
Instead of filling your child’s stocking with toys and gift cards, put a few simple toys in then fill the rest with homemade chocolate covered pretzels, homemade marshmallows for hot chocolate, or another favorite treat.
STAY ON TRACK
As you purchase gifts, be sure to deduct the cost from the allotted budget so you know what you have left to spend.
A spreadsheet may help, but you can also do this on a legal pad.
Be sure to do the same for your holiday baking and holiday party planning. Anything you purchase needs to be deducted somewhere so your overall budget can stay on track.
Better yet, use our Christmas Budgeting Bundle. It has space for everything you could possibly be buying so you won’t lose track of anything.
REMEMBER THE SPIRT OF THE SEASON
The most important thing to keep in mind this holiday season is that it’s not about the gift or how much you spend; it’s about the spirit of the season. The love and joy that surrounds us this time of year.
Spending quality time with the people we love is so much more important than spending money on them.
While temptations may surround you, threatening to send your holiday budget off course, stay strong and remember it’s more important to enjoy the holiday than stress about the credit card bill when it’s over.