I’m the type of person that loves playing Christmas music the day after Halloween. Yes, I’m one of those. I’m also the type of person that dislikes Christmas shopping, especially last-minute Christmas shopping (aka ” Christmas Budget Busting Shopping…”). Too often the heart wrench of spending so much money clouds my holiday cheer. Those days are over folks!
Here are my 5 Grinch Kickin’ Hacks for Christmas Budgeting
Related reads to help you budget better for the holidays:
HAVE A BANK ACCOUNT SOLELY FOR CHRISTMAS EXPENSES
If you don’t do anything else on this list, just please, PLEASE do this one! You spend more money in December, it’s the naked truth. Open a savings account that is just for Christmas expenses and add to it year-round (or starting NOW :))
Food for thought: Here is a list of things my Christmas Account covers.
- Party Food
- Wrapping Supplies
- Family Activities
- Neighborhood Parties
- White Elephant Parties
- Decorations (because I can’t stop won’t stop… until I’m out of money.)
- Christmas Lights (again… #cantstopwontstop…until…)
- Monthly Bills (the hubs works fewer hours in December with all the holidays. Fewer hours = Less $)
- ANYTHING else remotely related to Christmas
PLAN FAMILY GIFT PURCHASES NOW
Are you a Black Friday and Cyber Monday lover? I sure am. But I waste money (on everything) when I don’t have a game plan. However, in the last few years, I’ve had my list prepped with exactly what I wanted to buy and hit the couch with my laptop prepared baby!
I’m a simpleton, so we don’t do loads of gifts for our kids, and that does make this easier. Not to mention it helps us focus on the true meaning of Christmas better anyway. This is what we do in our family:
- Something to wear
- Something to read
- Something you need
- Something Fun
- 1 Gift from Santa
I love making and marking off lists, so I then fill out my nerdy little Christmas Gift List Planning Sheet (you can get that here if you’d like. It’s suuuuper rudimentary but gets the job done.) for each of my kids with a few ideas of what we want to get them, then when Black Friday and Cyber Monday come, we decide on the final item (usually based on deal and price).
PLAN “OTHER” GIFTS (EXTENDED FAMILY, NEIGHBORS, CO-WORKERS, ETC.)
This is harder, I will admit. This changes every year for us, as I’m sure it does for many others. If you can’t plan exact gifts for these individuals or groups, you can at least set a budget, which is what I had to do last year.
Here is an example to give you an idea:
- Extended Family (Grandparents, cousin gifts) $200
- Work Gifts: $50
- Neighbor Gifts: $50
DROP THE OBLIGATORY FEELINGS
Soooo much easier said than done right?? You know the scene… Little Sally Sue comes over and drops a present off for little Mary Mae. Oh no. You didn’t have a gift planned! Hurry! Quickly order something “small” and get it over to her before the weekend.
Those are fabulous intentions, but the reality of it is, most people don’t give gifts expecting something in return. That’s a beautiful truth! If we can graciously accept the gift and not fall into the trap of feeling obligated to give in return, then your Christmas budget (and heart) just might survive the season!
Plus, all those “obligatory” purchases, big or small add up and end up blowing your budget and setting you waaaaaaay back come January. It’s hard to swallow, but you need to just be completely grateful for their act of service and not feel obligated to give back, especially if you can’t afford it or it wasn’t planned.
SAVE AGAIN COME JANUARY
Most people “pay off” Christmas debt through the first quarter of the following year. That’s a horrible, endless cycle that never allows you to get ahead. Instead of going into debt for Christmas, start saving for it again the moment it is over. Put a small percentage of every paycheck into your Christmas Account, or put aside a solid 50 bucks every time, it doesn’t matter. It’s easier to put a little bit away month to month than come up with extra cash last minute… or worse, pay off debt for something that has been on December 25th for your entire life (and longer).
Make your Christmas “merry and bright” again by starting to prepare now. You’ll thank yourself later… maybe with a family vacation to some exotic island because you can now afford it… wink wink.
If you need help beyond Christmas budgeting, I created FREE “Riches to Rags, the Ultimate Family Finance Workbook” to help you sort out your crazy (because you know you are, that’s why you’re reading this).
For those who like play by plays, I also have an AWESOME e-course called “Debtor’s Diet. It’s everything we did to save 14K in Under 12 Months on only 50K Income… I know high five right now! Check it out here.
For more budgeting tips and hacks,