Avoid overspending this Christmas season with a Christmas budget. It can be really easy to overspend this time of year. But if you want to avoid going into debt this holiday season, a budget is necessary.
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How to Create a Christmas Budget
01. Who Are You Buying For
You’ll need to make a list of everyone you’ll be buying gifts for. This would include gifts for family, friends, co-workers, and gift exchanges.
Parents don’t forget to write down gifts from Santa and stocking stuffers too.
Once you have your who, you’ll need to make a list of what you’ll be buying for each person.
02. Christmas Food & Supplies & Other Expenses
Christmas isn’t just about gifts. Dinner and supplies can put a huge dent in your Christmas bill.
Are you hosting? Hosting can come with some really high costs. Create an entire meal plan and markdown average prices for your meal.
Is the food budget getting a bit out of hand? Consider doing a potluck to lower these costs. Each family member will bring a dish, it really helps when everyone takes a share of the bill. Plus it’s one less thing to make!
What do Supplies & Other Expenses Include?
- Decorations. If you are planning on buying decorations the best times to buy are Black Friday or Boxing Day. Boxing day won’t help you this Christmas but you’ll be set for next Christmas.
- Cards. Do you send out Christmas cards to the entire family? We did. But quickly cut out that expense. Not that it was a huge expense – maybe $30. I just never remembered.
- Shipping. If you have to ship any packages, you’ll want to factor all your shipping costs into your budget too. This could include postage, envelopes, packaging, bubble wrap, and all that other fun stuff.
- Disposable Plates & Cutlery. Depending on the size of your party, disposable might be your only option. With my family, I have enough dishes for everyone but with my in-laws, it could be anywhere from 20 to 40 people. Who would have that many dishes & cutlery? No one.
- Wrapping Paper & Gift Bags. This isn’t usually a high bill but it’s still a bill.
- Travel Expenses. If you’re not hosting you’re traveling. How far you travel will impact your budget. How you travel will also be a factor; by car, bus, or plane.
03. Tally Up Your Total Costs
Time to price things out. Search for prices on all your expenses from steps 1 and 2. Add up these costs and you’ll have the first draft of your Christmas costs. You’ll see why I call it a first draft in the next step.
04. How Much Can You Really Afford
Can you afford your total Christmas costs from step 03? Can you without going into debt? If you can, you’re good to move onto the next step.
If you can’t afford it, no worries! That’s why it’s called a first draft. There are a few things you can do:
- Cut Back on Your Gift List. Go over your list and start cutting out some gifts. Maybe opt-out of a gift exchange or two. Perhaps your child doesn’t need a dozen gifts.
- Cut Back on Your Food & Drink Costs. Try setting up a potluck for Christmas dinner this year. Sharing food & drink costs with your family and friends will save you a huge portion of your food expenses.
- Cut back your Other Expenses. You could reuse the Christmas decorations from last year. Maybe a long-distance trip just isn’t possible this year.
- Make More Money. If you don’t want to or can’t cut back anymore, the only option left is to make more money. You might be able to pick up extra shifts at work – if you work in retail picking up extra shifts is very easy. If that’s not an option for you, this post on How To Make $1000 before Christmas might be worth a read.
Now that you have your Christmas budget at an affordable point, you’re ready to shop!
As Christmas gets closer tons of deals are popping up, take advantage of those sales to get the most bang for your buck.
Here are a few tips to save you the most while shopping:
- Shop Sales. Black Friday is coming up. I know that the stores are crazy busy, but the prices are worth it. If you don’t want to brave the stores, there’s always Cyber Monday!
- Use Coupons. Coupons may be a pain but you can save a ton using coupons when there aren’t any sales.
- Compare Prices. Even if you want to keep your shopping at one store, you can still compare prices. Just make sure that you’re shopping at a store that does price matching.
06. Revisit Your Christmas Budget
If you came under your Christmas budget, you could revisit some of the cuts you had to make or add it to a savings fund for next year.
Or you can treat yourself to something special. Christmas shopping is hard – you deserve it!
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