Ok, we're not quite there yet. But now that the turkey leftovers have been finished, it's officially time to think about Christmas. Set aside 30 minutes to evaluate your Christmas budget and avoid extra stress.
1. Make a list of everyone you want to give a gift to. Yep, everyone. Write it on a piece of paper or make a list on your phone in the "Notes" section (this is handy for when you're out shopping).
2. Don't forget those extra expenses! Did you include Christmas cards? Stamps for those cards? Family photos? Gift wrap? Cookies for the mail man? The work Secret Santa exchange? Leave a little wiggle room for other things that may pop up unexpectedly.
3. Look at your budget for December. How much money do you really have to spend on the holidays? Look at any extra income, like year-end bonuses, coming your way. Christmas is not an excuse to max out your credit card.
4. Write down the max amount you can spend on the holidays without using your credit cards. This will likely be way less than you're used to spending. I know, this step sucks. But it's important.
5. Roughly divide up that amount between your recipients. Maybe you'll spend more on mom and dad because you get them a joint gift. This is an estimate you can modify later, so don't give up here.
6. Time to add some reality. Chances are, your budget is looking lean. How can I give my best friend something valuable when all I can allocate is $20? Revisit your list and see where you can make changes. How about virtual Christmas cards instead of mailed ones? Do your kids really need new phones when they just got one last year?
7. Be honest with your loved ones and don't give into social media pressures. This is the hardest part, for me included. Yes, that Instagram family has a gorgeous set of new photos for their embossed Christmas cards. Would you rather have financial peace or look really cool?
8. Keep track of the expenses and write them on your budget sheet. Save this for next year so you have a reference and can plan to save up in advance. How great does it sound to pay cash for Christmas in 2023?
Keep an eye out for my next post, where we make a plan to save up for next Christmas.