It is so easy to overspend during this time of the year now that everyone is excited about Christmas and spending quality time with family and loved ones. This said, you may want to create a realistic budget to meet your daily expenses, pay bills, buy presents, and have fun with your family and friends.
How to Make a Holiday Budget
The first thing to do is to set financial limits and make a list of your spending goals and categories. List your regular monthly expenses such as groceries, rent or mortgage, utilities, outstanding balances, and so on. Then list your income, including wages, salaries, and additional income you may have. This will help you to find out whether you have surplus income to spend on presents or you have to rely on cash in your savings account. If you don’t have enough cash for a rainy day and no surplus income left, there are low-cost borrowing solutions to look into. Back to spending categories, you can make a list of Christmas expenses such as post-Christmas sales, holiday clothing, travel, Christmas tree and décor, entertainment, and holiday meals.
You may include expenses such as kitchen and baking gifts, service gifts and tips, and holiday photos. Other items you can list include Christmas cards, shipping and postage, gift wraps, stocking stuffers, and of course, gifts. Shop around and calculate how much you need in total. If you want to have a more detailed list and plan, think of everyone you will meet and give a gift – grandparents, siblings, cousins, spouse, kids, uncles and aunts, etc. Other people on your list may include coworkers, bosses, partners, church staff, neighbors, and service providers. List all names on a list and divide them into categories, for example, “no gift”, “gift made”, and “gift to make”. This will give you a good idea about the number of people you can afford to give a present. Focus on the “gift to make” category and assign the amounts you plan to spend. Then assign amounts for the “gift made” category (the amounts you have already spent). Calculate how much you have in total. If the total amount is less than your budget for holiday gifts, then you can move names from the “no gift” category to “gift to make”. This is a great way to ensure that you are able to give presents to more people. If you want to, you can also make a gift list and list each gift in addition to gift amount. Alternatively, you can use the envelope system for holiday-related spending.
Think of the types of gifts that are suitable for colleagues, neighbors, and friends. May be Christmas treats, cookies, or anything else? This depends on your budget. Once you do this, have a list of all expenses, and a good idea of how much you need, you may want to start tracking your ongoing expenditures. After you paid for gifts or anything else, make sure you record all expenses to keep track of your spending. This will give you a good idea of the cost of the holiday season.
To make things run smooth, it pays to prioritize expenses, especially during the holiday season when you have additional expenses. Priority expenses include things like your rent or mortgage, outstanding balances, and utilities. It is important to pay these first, along with council tax, payroll and income tax, spousal and child support, etc. Other expenses to meet include student and personal loans, medical bills, and credit card debt. It all depends on your financial situation, whether you have debt and how much you owe, and other considerations. Finally, there is one golden rule to follow, whether during the holiday season or any other time – live within your means and don’t overspend.
On a Tight Budget
If you are on a tight budget, there are great ideas for free gifts – you have one valuable resource to use, and this is your creativity. If you have enough time, you can think of gifts such as personalized CDs, repurposed old frames, homemade cookies, etc. You can create a scrapbook, album, or photo collage or you can knit or crotchet a sweater, table cloth or anything else. There are plenty of gift ideas such as homemade bread, good reads and books on your shelf, an encouragement jar, and so on. Whatever comes to your mind, really, is best because you know your loved ones well. And if you are short of time and have a tight budget, look for Christmas sales and discounts, promos, and online sales. Online retailers save on rent, salaries, and other expenses and offer exclusive discounts and hot deals.