Tips for 2019 Holiday Budgeting
The holiday season can create complications for your personal budgeting plan. This time of the year, you can find all sorts of suggestions on how to control your holiday spending. It can be a little challenging writing about creative solutions. Hopefully, this article will offer a slightly different perspective.
First, let’s recognize that it is easy to spend more than you intend to do and end up with a holiday hangover with balances on your credit cards to show for it. Just remember, this does not have to be the case.
Prepare a Holiday Budget this Year
If you are reading this article, it means that you are not happy with what you have been doing in the past. So, make the decision that you will approach your holiday budgeting differently this year.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Be organized by making and keeping a list. Start by making a list of everyone you need to include. You may want to include anyone that is a maybe or even an emergency gift or two. This list can be in a notebook, a piece of paper, index cards, or an app on your cell phone.
- It does not matter how you make the list, but it is critical that you have one. The list will also ensure you remember what you have purchased for whom when it comes time for your gift exchange.
- You may want to put the list in a spreadsheet, because it will be easier to add up your budget and expenses. Here is an example of a holiday budget spreadsheet.
- Include any parties you may be attending or parties that you may be having. You may want to throw a non-budget breaker party at your own home.
- Review your current spending plan and your balance sheet. These two statements will help you figure out what you can afford to spend. Remember: gift giving is not intended for you to go into debt. You need to have honest discussions with your family before you commit more than you can afford.
- Comparison shop online to get an idea about prices. Then update your list with estimated amounts. If the total is more than your overall budget, you will need to figure out if you need to change what you want to buy or put aside more funds for your holiday spending.
- Go shopping in your closets. Round up any presents that you have bought during the year and may have forgotten you have purchased. Look to see if you have bought anything new and have not returned. Is it a good gift for anyone on your list? Write down everything you found in your home next to the person on your list.
- As you shop, update the list with the actual amounts. Keep track of both under and overspending. Adjust your gift buying to stay within your budget.
Tip: If your holiday budget is very tight, consider giving out individualized “gift certificates” instead. Offer your friends with kids a few evenings of babysitting. If you are a writer, offer to write their family yearly newsletter. Offer to walk your friends’ dogs. Make a gift of whatever talents you have that are of little or no cost to you.
A word about large families
It can be quite a challenge to give gifts, if you come from a large family. There are all sorts of expectations. Family members may feel slighted if you do not give an “adequate” gift.
Here are few ideas:
- Only give gifts to children and not the adults.
- Have a lottery – it doesn’t have to be only gift per person. You can always draw more than one name. For example, if there are ten family members you, you can each draw two or three names.
- Set an agreed upon dollar amount for spending on gifts.
- Do an activity together rather than a gift. It has been proven that experiences matter more than gifts. Volunteer at a charitable event or work at a soup kitchen during the holidays. Go on a hike or ice skate together.
With a little extra planning, holiday shopping for your friends and family can be budget friendly. You may have to make a few suggestions to your friends and family, in order for it work. Speak up about your concerns. You might be surprised about their reaction. They might have been waiting for the opportunity to slow down the gift giving.
Are there any other holiday budgeting tips you find helpful?