Ladies, most of us carry the load of holiday shopping and everything that comes along with that. For most of us, the number 1 thing that comes with the holidays is STRESS. The biggest way to help relieve some of that stress is to create and follow a holiday budget.
You don’t need to go into debt to try and show people how much you care about them. Carefully planning and sticking to your holiday budget is the best way to enjoy the holidays without waking up on January 1st overdrawn or in debt.
1. Set a budget of how much you can spend based on your finances.
Never plan to spend more than you have or can spend. You should not be late on rent because you wanted to buy Christmas gifts.
2. Write a list of everything you need to spend money on for the holidays and the max amount you want to spend on each.
This includes but is not limited to tape, gift wrapping paper or gift bags, cards, gifts, travel expenses, gift exchange, dinner, and decor.
3. Make sure your list is realistic for the budget you set.
If the list is not realistic it is useless. For example, if you only budget to spend $2 per person you need to be aware that you can not get an Xbox for $2.
4. Break down the gift portion of your list in further detail.
Who do you want to give a gift to? Name, max amount to spend, gift idea, and set the priority of the gift (ex: kids vs work friend). I always budget for 2 or 3 spare/surprise gifts for when someone you were not expecting to give you a gift does. For some great ideas for gifts check out our holiday gift guide.
5. Pull out your budgeted holiday shopping amount in cash.
Go to your nearest ATM and withdraw the amount you have decided on for your Holiday budget.
6. Separate your budget into an envelope to match steps 2 & 4.
For example, you write Sarah $20 candle, Dinner $100, Décor $50 on the envelopes.
7. Look for deals on your gift ideas!
This step works better the more time you give yourself. I started looking around in August for Christmas gifts but only bought them if they were ridiculously cheap or on clearance.
- Check Facebook for deal groups where people post coupon codes and post about specials in different stores. You can even post asking about a specific item for them to check for you.
- Do the same thing on Instagram & Tik Tok.
- Look for sales on the item you are looking for. A lot of store price match other stores including Walmart, Target, and Amazon.
- Look in the clearance section of your favorite stores for deals.
- Pre-Covid I would even check out thrift stores to see if I’d get lucky and I even found an Alex & Ani bracelet (which I ended up keeping) for $10. When I checked online retail value was $128.
8. As you go down your list don’t only cross off people and items.
For gifts for people write down what you got them. That way, 1) you don’t forget a gift (which has happened to me too many times to count) or 2) you can notice if one person got a lot more gifts than the other (especially the kids).
*** MAKE SURE YOU DO NOT PULL OUT EXTRA MONEY OR GO OVER YOUR HOLIDAY BUDGET ***
9. As you start shopping separate an envelope for any money that was extra.
This money CAN be spent on another person or category which you had previously budgeted for. It can also be put away for any emergencies that pop up.
10. If possible, keep gifts in one place but organized.
I have all the gifts in my closet but in separate grocery bags for each person. As I continue shopping, I just add to that person’s individual grocery bag.
11. Make sure to start this plan as early as possible next year.
This way as the year goes by you have more time to shop around for the best price. Also, the earlier you plan the easier it will be to save money to add to your Christmas budget without it affecting you too much.
I also recommend doing this with your kids if it is age-appropriate. I first saw this idea at my oldest daughter’s school when she was in 1st grade. They would send home an envelope and would ask parents to help the children budget for their holiday shopping. The children would be completely responsible for their money and their shopping. For example, my daughter budgeted to spend $.50 on her, $.50 on her brother, and $1 for me. Like most kids when she got to the shop, she wanted an item that was $1 which meant she had to split the other $1 between me and her brother.
A simple way to do this with the kids is to follow steps 1 – 6 with them. Once they have their list have them go to Dollar Tree or the Dollar Spot at Target and let them shop with their budgets. It teaches kids to be careful and cautious with their finances. Plus, an added perk is that they start noticing how much everything costs.