10 Tips to Stay on Budget at Christmas
Christmas can be an extremely stressful time for many families. With the additional demands of activities at school, church, work and youth groups budgets are often tapped out.
I hope the following 10 Tips to Stay on Budget at Christmas will help keep the stress levels lower in your home as they have in mine. These tips will help you use the FREE Christmas Budget and Gift Log which can be downloaded in either excel or pdf versions.
- Make a list of people you plan on purchasing or making gifts for this year. Seems pretty obvious but for years I over spent on some family members and almost forgot others! So making a list is the first item on my Christmas to do list.
- Estimate the amount you can afford to spend. Don’t get bummed if it is only $5.00… because there are really neat gifts that can be made or purchased for under $5.00. Fill in the amount you would like to spend and keep an eye on the total as it will climb quickly. You may have to adjust the amounts if you find that your “hopes” are larger than your “pockets” and this is a good time to make those decisions. Do you remove a couple of people or combine gifts into something for the entire family? Perhaps only offer gifts to the children instead of everyone in a household. Working through your list and budget amounts before you start buying will keep you on track and not stressing over what to purchase.
- Make a list of possible gift ideas or websites for each person. Brainstorm your gift ideas now instead of at the Mall! This will save you hours in time and energy. Not to mention the convenience of shopping online when you can save on shipping or early sales. Gift cards are great for out-of-town family members.
- Consider giving like items to multiple family members. Items such as zoo memberships, museum passes, amusement park tickets or a package of 12 gift cards to local restaurants can save you time and money. If the recipients are local, they might enjoy going out together each month or if for couples your thoughtfulness could be their much-needed date night.
- Start shopping early! Once you have a gift in mind for each person, start watching for sales or discounts on similar items. Start buying early, especially for those family members that live out-of-town and you will have to ship their packages.
- Maintain your purchase list! Write everything down for each person on your list. I seem to have several children that like lots of “little” gifts and others prefer one “large” gift. When you compare the piles of gifts… it doesn’t seem to be fair at all. However, my children know the budget we set and that their gifts are based on the budget and their ages.
- Keep a running tab on your spending by person or family group. Nothing sends you into a tailspin faster than spending too much on someone and then worrying about “making it up” to the next person on the list.
- Look for free or reduced gift wrapping or wrapping materials while you are shopping. Many stores offer free gift wrapping or free wrapping material. You may have to ask for it, or go to the customer service desk to collect…but it is worth your time.
- Mail your packages early! I can’t stress this enough. The later you wait to mail, the more expensive it becomes. Having to ship 2nd day or overnight often will cost you more than the gift inside the box.
- Lastly, once you have completed your shopping for everyone on your list… STOP SHOPPING!!! Last minute trips to the store will only push you over your budget.
Plan your list and work your plan! Start early, finish early…..relax and enjoy the holidays!