Make a List
And check it twice – really! Write down all of the expenses you think you’ll incur over the holiday season. From a gift list (don’t forget those white elephant parties!) to dinners and travel expenses, think of all the possibilities now so they don’t creep up on you at the last minute. Here are a few things to consider:
- Hosting a family dinner? How many people will you be cooking for?
- Will you be traveling home for the holidays?
- Can you drive or will you need to book a flight? Need a rental car?
- Who are the people you’ll need to include on your gift list?
- Do you have to ship any presents to friends and family who are out of state?
Once you’ve written everything down, make sure your list is not so long that it comically unfurls like an ancient Egyptian papyrus scroll. Go over everything and see if there’s anything you can remove.
- Do you need to buy a present for every single teacher in your child’s school, or would it be all right to give them a card?
- Would your family consider drawing names instead of everyone buying presents for everyone else?
- Do you need to book a hotel room for holiday travel, or can you stay with family?
Establish Your Budget (and Don’t Stray!)
Now that you have a solid idea of what you need to purchase, it’s time to decide how much you’re going to spend. Are you hosting a holiday party? Consider asking your family to contribute with a potluck. It’ll not only be easier on your wallet, but you’ll also be less stressed out about getting everything in order before your guests arrive. Also, be sure to look around for free local holiday celebrations, such as tree lighting ceremonies, ice sculpture displays, craft fairs and more. You can find some really great activities for the whole family that won’t leave you feeling like you’ve spent a ton.
Number one priority is to establish a total dollar amount for gifts and to not go over it. Creating these parameters will allow you to have a clear idea of how much money you’ll be spending right from the start.
Create a Separate Account for Holiday Spending
Setting up an account specifically for all of your holiday spending will help you remain within budget, because you’ll only be drawing on the funds from that account. But, this only works if you stay true to your plans and don’t spend beyond what’s in the account. While it can be very tempting to grab your credit cards to help cover costs, it can be a surefire way to go beyond your budget. If you think about it, it’s very easy to use that plastic and forget how much you’ve spent until that bill lands in your mailbox. Spare yourself that shock by sticking to your budget.
Right after the holidays, you may want to get an early start on next year by contributing money every month to this separate account. Get into the habit of budgeting and planning early on, and it’ll become part of your annual routine.
Consider Homemade Gifts
Sure your mailman is a swell fella, but do you really need to spend a ton of money to show him your appreciation? How about exploring your inner crafter and creating homemade presents you can easily (and cheaply) pass out to acquaintances. Looking for some inspiration? The good news is there are some great websites you can check out – including the Zing blog! You’ll find posts on creating your own holiday gifts and DIY Chanukah crafts. Also, sites like Pinterest.com and CraftGawker.com offer tons of photos, designs and how-to guides to spark your creativity. You can also visit your local craft store where you’ll find a wide variety of books and crafting ideas.
Do you have any ideas for a fun holiday season on a budget? Share with us in the comments below!
If so, subscribe now for tips on home, money, and life delivered straight to your inbox.