December 21, 2023
Guess what time of year it is again? Its CHRISTMAS
We all know it’s officially Christmas when we hear Mariah Carey Christmas song “All I want for Christmas” blasting through our radios or playing as a background tune on our favorite morning news show. This year it started playing before Thanksgiving Day. As a matter of fact, some stores were even playing Christmas music and advertising their black Friday sales in October. I know I might be in the minority, but can we please take it one holiday at a time, my goodness. It’s all becoming a bit much for me but nevertheless it is official, the Christmas season is here.
Christmas comes at the same time every year but for some reason we are often surprised and caught off guard when it comes. We hear experts or read articles telling us year after year to put a little money aside each month, so when Christmas comes you will have the money you need to buy gifts for those individuals on your list. But with the best intention we just don’t get it done. Me included.
I have a line item in my budget called Christmas and for some reason it’s never fully funded. So many things come up throughout the year that has a demand on our money which makes the Christmas category take a back seat in importance. Until its Christmas that is, and I am singing the same old tune of “I wish I had put more money aside.” So oftentimes I would decrease money I allocated to other areas and put that money into the Christmas budget and any other discretionary income I have, if any.
But you know what? it is not too late we can still get it together:
Mastering Your Holiday Spending:
1) Look at your Christmas gift list and set holiday spending limits.
A good way to be cost effective/economical is to set a limit on how much you will spend. You can do this by figuring out how much you have left over after you subtract your monthly expenses (Income – expenses). And when you are thinking about monthly expenses be sure to include groceries, gas, birthday gifts for us December babies and school toy drives and charitable donations. It all adds up.
By doing this you will know how much money you have and how much money you have to spend on Christmas.
2) Take advantage of shopping holidays
Take some time and look at the sales at various stores. Most stores will price match if you find the product at another store for less, saving you time and money on gas and to be honest the aggravation of going to multiple stores. Also, coupons can be a great saving tool so don’t forget to use them.
3) Consider homemade gifts!
I know we are not kids anymore, where we can get away with making mom and dad handmade Christmas cards, but homemade gifts are still an option and can take the stress off your pocket in savings. It is more personalized, meaningful, and sentimental. I made my mom a throw blanket with images of the family throughout the years and it still put a smile on her face today. This is something you cannot buy in a store. Be creative and give something with a personal touch the DIY style.
4) Reuse last year’s decorations
You do not need to buy new decorations every year. My mom is still using decoration from when we were growing up. I am still using my Christmas tree I had when I lived in my tiny one-bedroom apartment. It looks so cute sitting on the fireplace.
5) Cut back on the dishes served
Cutting back on the number of dishes you serve can put a lot of money back into your pocket. Have you seen the cost of groceries lately? You do not need to cook 5 different meat dishes. Stick to the favorites if you are hosting or better yet have others bring a dish and those who cannot cook, or you don’t want to cook ask them to bring the juice, napkins or store-bought pastries.
6) Try to do better next year!
Try to kick off the holiday season earlier. Stores are now beginning to advertise sales as early as October or even earlier. Shopping early reduces the risk of paying extra for expedited shipping or having limited options in gift selection. Also do try to put money aside each month for Christmas, that way you have money to spend when it comes around again at the same time next year.
As for this year, don’t forget to track your spending as you go. For example, track what you are spending on parties, presents, food, travel, etc.? If you do not pay attention, you can blow through your budget before you say Merry Christmas. So, after you make your list and check it twice and categorize it. Make sure you stick to it.
How are you cutting back this holiday season?