With just a little over 4 months to go before the Big Day, we need to have some sort of financial plan in place. Unless, of course, you don’t have to worry about money.
Money is generally tight come December (with all the parties, extra food, visitors, visiting, and gifts), but it doesn’t have to be. I’m usually not very good at budgeting and planning, but over the last few years, I’ve noticed that when I had a budget in place I had peace of mind. Now I didn’t always follow the budget (almost always overspent), but at least I knew that I had a plan and that if things started to fall apart I had a back up.
So, I guess my first Holiday Savings tip is to . . .
If you’ve never made a Christmas budget before this is what I do:
- Take a piece of paper and divide it into 3 columns (a bigger one and 2 smaller ones).
- Label the big column Expenses, the next column Price, and the third column Actual.
- Next, make a list of everything you need to buy for the holidays – gifts, baking, parties (from napkins and decorations), Christmas cards and stamps, gas for all those long-distance relatives you have to visit, everything you spend for Christmas. Put these under the Expenses column (one line per item).
- Record how much it will cost in the Price column. If you don’t know the cost, just estimate it for now.
- Add up the Price column and that is your working budget for the holidays.
- As you shop and spend money, record the actual cost in the Actual column.
Congratulations you now have your first Christmas budget! I keep my budget in my Christmas Notebook at the back of my lists section (my general to do and cleaning lists are at the front), so it’s easy for me to flip to. Once you’ve done this a couple of times, you’ll basically know what you need, financially, every year and can start saving earlier in the year.