Start Planning Your Holiday Budget Today
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Do you know what today is? I couldn’t believe it when I looked at the calendar this week, but we’re exactly four months from Christmas. With my upcoming calendar, it is essential for me to start my holiday plans now. And if you want to eliminate some stress from your holiday season, I’m advocating you start planning your holiday budget today.
Why start planning your holiday budget today?
Discussing the holiday season in August feels too early, doesn’t it?
Look, I’m not advocating that we pull down the tinsel and lights before Labor Day, but for me, the pathway to productivity and positive results come from being organized and identifying roadblocks early. It seems to me that the period between Halloween and New Year’s provides way too many opportunities to overspend and blow the budget, by planning your holiday budget early, you can avoid some of these pitfalls.
Some of you have been saving money for Christmas since the first of the year. Maybe you have a jar that you throw extra change into, maybe you have automatic saving transfers set up with the bank – I think that’s awesome.
I’ll be the first to admit that the Mister and I haven’t done that. We’ve had a lot of financial obligations this year, including a $7,000 tax bill and numerous car repairs, and we’re still working on our debt snowball. So, I expect our holiday season to be frugal this year, but by planning my holiday budget early, I can keep things festive even if it’s low-key.
What should your include when planning your holiday budget?
The answer to this question looks different from family to family. If you have children, gifts and decorations may figure pretty heavily into your spending. There’s the obvious answer: gifts and holiday decorations, which the healthy advertising machine would never let us forget.
What other questions should you consider when you’re planning your holiday budget?
- Do you need to travel? It’s probably a good idea to start watching airline fares.
- Do you host big holiday dinners at your home? Do you do a lot of holiday baking?Planning a menu early allows you pick up pantry items as they go on sale.
- What about hostess gifts? Do you intend to purchase a new dress for parties; do the kids need new holiday sweaters? Child-care costs if you have work events?
- Do you want to do some extra giving at church? Will your family participate in an angel tree or another similar project?
There’s usually a price tag associated with the answer to each of these question. This is the time figure these things out so you don’t have to stress about them when they come up.
When should you fund your holiday budget?
Get out your calendar and work backward. When you need the money for purchasing holiday budget items will depend on your planning needs.
Here are the categories I’m thinking about right now. If I have these dates in mind, I know how much money I need and when I need to purchase.
- DIY Gifts – How many DIY gifts do I intend to make? What are the supply costs? How much time will it take?
- Purchased Gifts – For the gifts that I intend to purchase, what am are we giving, and how much money do we intend to spend? If I know what I intend to purchase, I can start watching for sales on specific items.
- Shipping – Most of my family lives in other parts of the country. I need to identify when my shipping deadlines are. The closer we get to the holiday, the more expensive it becomes to get a package to my family on time.
- Holiday cards – For years, the Mister and I have mailed Shutterfly photo cards out. When do you think the best deals occur? You guessed it – early.
- Holiday dinner – Last year, my parents moved to Washington, but I have a brother and sister who still live here in South Carolina. It’s important to me that we have some sort of family holiday get together, and as the oldest, I feel it’s my job to host (for now). Since there are also some dietary restrictions, having a menu planned early allows me to catch some pantry items on sale.
- Time off – The Mister is fortunate that his company closes for the week of Christmas each year, which is a great blessing for spending time together. However, he doesn’t get paid for that entire week, so we have to adjust the budget accordingly or figure out some side hustle income.
How do you fund the holiday budget?
Okay, now that you’re done planning your holiday budget, how do you fund all these expenses? Here are a few of my ideas increase the balance in your holiday fund:
- Look hard at the existing budget: Are there areas you can tighten up to allow more room for your holiday fund? Eating out less or cutting the entertainment spending.
- Have a (digital) yard sale: Y’all know we’re Dave Ramsey-ites, right? Of course, I’m going to suggest looking around your house to see what you can part with for a little cash. I’m also an advocate of selling online via Facebook groups, and I regularly take clothes and books/DVDs/etc. to Clothes Mentor and Plato’s Closet. (Bonus: your house is less cluttered, which probably makes you feel good.)
- Increase your income: if you can pick up overtime at work, do so. Otherwise, consider what you can do to bring some extra income home. Maybe that’s a part-time job. We do a lot of pet-sitting. The Mister also helps some of our neighbors set up electronics and does computers maintenance for some friends’ parents.
- Make/bake and sell: I have a friend who sold more than 20 red velvet cakes for Thanksgiving and holiday parties one year. Chasing Blue Jays did better during the last quarter of 2016 than the rest of the year combined, and I made at least a dozen messy bun hats for local friends in December. Remember, that just because something comes easily to you, doesn’t mean it comes easily to the people you know. People will pay you for your talents.
Want to learn more?
Check out these holiday budget posts:
Take Control of Your Holiday Budget
Our First Christmas on a Budget
Share your thoughts.
Share your holiday budget tips with me! Tell me in comments how you keep your holiday spending in check and what you do to add more dollars to your holiday fund. What other thoughts do you have when planning your holiday budget.