The holidays are just around the corner – are you prepared? For most of us, the reality is no. Each year you may tell yourself that you’re going to start earlier, make a strict gift-buying list and stick to your holiday budget, but Christmas always seems to have a way of creeping up on us.
The unfortunate part is that when we don’t plan for the holidays, we end up overspending. This ultimately leads to a stack of hefty credit card bills in the new year, and the added stress that comes along with it.
To ensure you don’t overspend this holiday season, we’ve put together a handy checklist of all the things you might need to account for in your holiday budget.
This one is obvious – gifts will likely eat up the bulk of your holiday budget. Every year the list seems to keep getting longer and longer, but do you really have to buy for all of those people? In order to save money over the holidays, opt for home-made gifts that are not only more meaningful, but are also free or very inexpensive. You can also check out our tips on creating a gift-giving budget that works.
Parties and Gatherings
The holidays seem to have an endless number of parties – whether it be for work, with friends or with family. Ensure that your budget includes the cost of attending said holiday parties. This might include the cost of a Secret Santa gift, cards, food, a new outfit and transportation home after the festivities. While it can be traditional to give a gift to the host of a party, consider baking, preserves or homemade ornaments for these thoughtful gifts.
It may be the new millennium, but people still love to send out a traditional holiday card by mail. Not only can this add up in the form of postage, it also can take a lot of time to write out personalized cards. Try sending out e-cards to your list this year. There are many free websites that allow you to create cute, personalized cards for everyone on your list.
Christmas lights, indoor décor and of course the coveted Christmas Tree – all of these holiday decorations can add up. While you may not want to be a Scrooge and not decorate at all, you don’t have to break the bank to celebrate. Many dollar stores have extensive decorations that are inexpensive. Try and use the same decorations over from previous years, and if you’re really a planner, buy next year’s decorations on Boxing Day when they’re all on sale!
Whether it’s for the big dinner or for entertaining friends, extra groceries will have to be factored into your budget. Take stock of supplies you already have, check the flyers for deals and go shopping with a list. Without a list, you will ultimately end up buying things you didn’t account for, so always prepare a grocery list. Check out our tips on how to save money on groceries.
At this time of year, the options for donations are endless. Decide on what best suits your intention and include it in your budget. Don’t feel guilted into donating every time you visit the store or are asked. Know that you’re contributing in your own way to the charities that matter most to you. If you can’t afford a financial donation this year, consider donating extra food from your pantry to a food bank, or volunteering at a local shelter. Not all charitable support needs to come in the form of money.
By being creative, you can finds ways to save big on the holidays. Go out to dinner with friends instead of exchanging gifts, draw names for extended family, give family gifts instead of individual, or do a good deed as a gift.
Ultimately, the best way to prepare for the holidays is to set a realistic budget, plan for extra expenses, and try not to get caught up in the hype. This is a time to enjoy with loves ones. By having a proper plan, you’ll ensure that you enjoy the moment and not worry about how you will pay for it all come January.
If you are having issues with budgeting or need help with debt, contact us today for a free consultation.