Budget Green in A Sea of Red on a Green Holiday
The holidays are coming up fast. The question is are you going to stay in the green or see red? Paper and pen are in your hands, you feel ahead of schedule this year, you've asked the family what they want for the holidays, you even have answers. Your next question is how much money do you have to spend? If you are not sure lets start here.
First thing, you write down your categories: Gifts, Food, Outings, Misc…etc. Next, think about how many people you're having over to eat, who are you buying for, what kind of holiday entertainment will you be enjoying this year, and of course there are always incidentals. Break it all down. Put dollars figures next to each category. Be realistic, no fudging the numbers. Putting a dollar amount next to each persons name is helpful. Debt proofing the holidays is about how much cash you save from now till the holidays. I am a big believer in shopping sales and using coupons. A day that I look forward to every year is Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday is a value oriented day.
I put together my gift list including any large house purchases I may be needing. My suggestion is to know what you are looking for ahead of time, go armed with a list and your coupons. Go early and know when to stop. I suggest going it alone unless you have a focused partner helping you find what you need.
Researching items the night before online helps you make better choices when comparison shopping. Wearing a waist belly bag keeps your hands free and you still have a place to put your list and ads/coupons. My extra tip is online shopping the day after Thanksgiving is a great deal day. You save money on gas, time and usually free shipping. Most online stores will honor the same coupons as in store.
Remember your budget is how much you actually have to give for the holidays. If the number is low, that is fine. Holidays are not about financially hurting yourself so someone can have the newest model that will go in the trash before January. The holiday season is about expressing love and appreciation to people who mean the most to you. Both of which can be done without money. An example of how to prioritize your gift decisions is to use a set of categories dividing your gift list into paid gift, made gift and time gift. This year you may want to change around who gets a paid holiday gift.
Paid Gift List:
- Beside each name on the paid gift list, assign a budgeted amount. For example, mom might get $40 and Cousin Louie $15. Double check your math to make sure your total does not exceed the total amount you have decided on for gifts. Your only rule is to not go over budget on each person. A good suggestion is purchasing a tree in someones name or making a donation in someones name to a non profit organization.
Made Gift List:
- What can you make? Most recipients of a homemade tin of cookies, fudge or candy are very appreciative. You might want to create a holiday wreath for someone. Families love updated framed pictures of the kids. If you want a more personalized touch make the frame yourself. Family craft ideas are all over the internet.
- You can make personalized holiday cards with handwritten notes inside.
- Happy holidays Great Uncle Byron. We just wanted to let you know that you are a special part of our family. Thanks for all the time and attention you show us. We’re certainly blessed to have an Great Uncle like you. You may want to include a time gift. Aunt Ethel may need help cleaning up the yard or just cleaning the kitchen. Spending time with family helping one another out creates great holiday memories. You can get creative with this. Cut an old used Christmas card and write your time gift on the back like a coupon.
Whatever you choose to do, make your list and stick with it. Not going into debt during the holiday season can be done with a little bit of planning and perseverance.
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