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There are 12 weeks and 5 days until Christmas. That’s it. How much money can you save in time for Christmas?
I’m going to give you the short answer on how to save this money: Put $50 away every week starting this week, and by Black Friday you will have saved $400, and by the week before Christmas, you will have saved $550.
It’s that simple.
But because I want to be a bit more helpful, I’m going to share some tips and tricks for how to save money for Christmas so you have exactly what you need for the holidays.
Map Out Your Budget
The first thing you’re going to want to do is to map out a realistic budget.
This is typically the hardest part for most people, mostly because they hate this step of the process. They don’t want to map it out and see what the numbers reveal. They just want to go out and spend, spend, spend.
But if you’re serious about wanting to have a debt free Christmas, you’ll have to figure out what your budget is.
Take a look at your finances and decide how much money you can realistically set aside for Christmas this year without relying on credit cards.If you have a Christmas fund already established, and you’ve been diligently putting money aside each month, then you pretty much already know what’s available to you for Christmas. If not, get out the calendar and start calculating, based on your monthly spending plan what’s available for Holiday shopping.
Don’t do this step after you’ve made your list of gifts to buy. You might end up very disappointed that you don’t have enough, which might lead you to want to use your credit cards. Instead, do this step first. Know what you’re working with for funds and then make the commitment to stick to this plan.
It’s easier to stick to your plan than to try to stretch it beyond its capacity.
For those of you who have plenty of means and have plenty in savings, it’s still a smart idea to plan your holiday plan but using a slightly different approach.
For you folks, write down the amount you want to spend in each category, add it up to establish your total budget. Still develop the written budget, so that at the end of the holiday season you stick to what you intended to spend rather than see you spent more than you wanted.
Remember, your budget isn’t just for gifts.
Remember to include money for the following:
- Holiday Food: Christmas Parties, Christmas Day, Christmas Eve
- Holiday Baking: You can blow your budget if you plan on giving baked goods as gifts. Include all costs associated including wraps, ribbons, and containers – not just the ingredients.
- Holiday Travel: Gasoline, plane tickets, hotel costs, travel food costs, etc.
- Holiday Décor: Christmas wreaths, Christmas trees, ornaments, a new set of lights can add up. Poinsettias and tablescapes can cost more than we think.
- Christmas Gifts: Include everyone on your list. Don’t be afraid to cut people off your list.
- Wrapping Paper/Gift Bags/Boxes/Bows/Tags
- Donations: If you make a holiday donation, make sure to include it on your list.
- Family Traditions: Each year I take my daughter to a special holiday show or theatrical presentation. We have been doing this for years. It’s a costly night as we go to dinner first and then the show. I’m a theater snob in that I love to sit up close, so the tickets can be upwards of $150 depending on the show. All in all that yearly tradition costs me upwards of $375. If you have a family tradition, make sure you include this in your holiday budget.
If you start today, you can have the money you need for the holidays, without going into debt.
With a little planning, a lot of saving, and maybe some cutting too, you can have a debt free, stress-free holiday this year!