How To Budget For Christmas – Blogmas #8
Christmas is a joyous holiday. It can also be overwhelming if all your focused on your ability to buy everybody, and their mother, Christmas gifts. Not that I’m complaining, but Christmas has become a wallet drainer and everyone can’t handle that type of expense. Unfortunately, those who can’t handle the huge expense that the Christmas holiday brings, aren’t secure enough to work within their budget, and are likely to fall into a massive amount of debt. For those of you struggling with the insane amount of financial pressure associated with the holiday, Christmas On A Budget is my gift to you. It is a very simple, easy to follow step-by-step guide, and will reduce your stress level by a thousand. Keep reading to find out how to budget properly, de-stress, and gain your sanity back for the Christmas holiday. And so we’re clear, I am in no way a financial expert. I’m a Mother of three and have a family of at least twelve to shop for during the holiday.
Christmas On A Budget
First, take a deep breath. Now, click on your bank’s mobile app or go to the website from your computer, and log on. You feeling nervous? Are ya sweating? If so, take another breath. Got it…okay!
Budget – Determine What You Have to Spend
Log onto your bank’s website and look at your account thoroughly. Review the purchases that already posted and your pending transactions. Those pending transactions might come back to bite you in the financial booty, if you don’t pay careful attention to them.
Simply Put: Total Balance is the amount of money in your bank account, including any pending transactions. Available Balance is the amount of money you ACTUALLY have at your disposal in your account. The difference between your Total Balance and Available Balance should amount to your Pending Transactions.
Ex. $750.00 (Total Balance) subtract $710.00 (Available Balance) equals $40.00 (Pending Debit Card/Check Card Transactions).
If you check your pending transactions, and they don’t equal $40.00, you’ve either missed something or there’s a possible correction needed. Either way, you will need to investigate that before moving forward. *End example*
The point of the example is to make sure you know how to calculate your bank account funds and correctly determine the exact amount of money you have at your disposal.
Also, while checking your available balance, check your transactions to make sure any bills that were paid have already been PAID.
DO NOT MESS WITH YOUR BILL MONEY!
Remember that after December 25th is over, you still have to live. If you have a savings account, forget that it exists until after the Christmas holiday. Your savings account money should not be a part of your Christmas budget, unless it is an account specifically set up for the Christmas holiday. If that’s the case, congratulations for taking the steps to save money for Christmas.
You should now have a clear understanding of how much money you have available to you.
Set your Christmas budget.
Gift List – Decide Who Makes the Cut
You’ve set your budget and now it’s time to figure out who makes it onto the gift list. This might be hard for you if you’re the type of person who wants to buy a gift for everyone. Also, if you’re the type that wants to please everyone causing you to feel pressured to buy everyone a gift…you’re going to have to let that go. It may not be easy, but your financial stability depends on it.
However you decide to make your list is up to you. But you should make your list with your budget in mind. No, don’t make your list with your budget in mind, focusing on what you think each person would want. Think about your budget and how many people you can realistically buy gifts for this season.
FYI, my parents are always at the top of my list. I buy for my children first, and then I focus on gifts for everyone else. If someone you care about doesn’t make the Christmas gift list this year, you can always gift them something that doesn’t cost a lot of money, or is homemade. A cute and festive family Christmas photo card is a nice gift for those who didn’t make the gift list due to your budget constraints.
Also, work functions like the office pot luck and Secret Santa events will happen…ugh. Those can quickly add up in the money department too. Opt out and instead give Christmas cards to your colleagues. If your Christmas spirit feels like gifting Christmas cards to colleagues is impersonal, include a handwritten message. That does the trick and your budget doesn’t suffer.
Budget for the Kiddies
If you’re like me, you have your children on a budget. The budget isn’t to punish them at all but it will keep your sanity.
My children have ridiculously expensive taste. Honestly, I don’t know how or why this came to be, but they do. A quick fix was to give them a limit. I limited their Christmas lists to a certain amount of items, and then after purchasing the items on their list, I’d buy them extra stuff. It was a win-win for all involved.
Shop the Sales – Not the Holiday Propaganda
Black Friday used to be this huge event where you camped out for hours to get some good items for yourself and for others. The products were inexpensive but the values were high. Now, Black Friday has changed a little and the nights of standing in long lines and waiting for stores to open still exist, but there are other options. Stores open up earlier and they also have Black Friday sales online.
You do not need to get caught up in the hype of Black Friday. I’m not saying don’t shop those sales but Black Friday isn’t the only day you can find great deals.
Last year, I went to New York and Company and cleaned up in gifts. I was buying gifts items for $3 and $5. I had to stand in line but it wasn’t too bad. However, this year I shopped the same store online and got an awesome deal on gift sets.
You have the potential of finding a lot of savings after Black Friday and the days leading up to Christmas, so keep an eye out for those deals. They are easy to find with a quick Google search. Everything doesn’t have to be hard ya know.
Bonus Tip: Don’t shop using your bank/debit card on Fridays. If you absolutely have to, keep careful track of your purchases. Check your true account balance, and with each purchase, subtract from your last account balance. Some banks don’t calculate charges over the weekend, leaving a consumer in the financial dark room.
Plan for Christmas – Start Early in the Year
If you have a bank account, you probably have the ability to set up a Holiday Savings Account. Take advantage of that option. For however long you want to save leading up to the holiday, you can. It’ll ease some of the stress you face when making financial decisions in the month of December. If you have a Holiday Savings Account, you’ll have no need to dip into your regular spending account. And if you do, you’ve already overspent or might be tinkering on the edge of overspending, and you need to STOP!
As mentioned earlier, Christmas is one day, and you have to live after the day has passed. Be mindful of your spending and remember that Christmas is not about balling out of control, unless you can afford to do so. Don’t ball out of control for Christmas and then starve for the remaining days of the year.
Do you have any more holiday budget tips? Comment below and share.
-Happy Holidays, From Me to You
See related post: Welcome to Blogmas 2017!!!