Friday, October 3, 2008

Week 12


This week, if you haven’t yet, sit down with a cup of coffee and jot down what you think your holiday season will cost. It can be done a number of ways, but here’s a number of the most common line items:

DECORATIONS:

  • tree
  • lights
  • misc. decor (ornaments, candles, wreath, etc.)
  • craft supplies
  • music
  • movies

FOOD (not including regular groceries):

  • cookie ingredients
  • misc. dessert ingredients
  • Christmas day dishes

CARDS:

  • stamps
  • cards and/or envelopes
  • paper for family newsletter
  • photography

GIFTS:

  • spouse
  • kids
  • parents
  • siblings
  • nieces
  • nephews
  • grandparents
  • other relatives
  • neighbors
  • coworkers
  • friends

EVENTS:

  • tickets
  • clothing
  • dining out
  • contributions

GIVING:

  • charities
  • volunteering
  • misc.
Please note - I am NOT saying you should be budgeting money for each of these categories. Not by a long shot - I’d say that we’ve personally budgeted for about half of this. But I did want you to be aware of all the little things that can really add up, and if you don’t plan ahead for them, they might knock on your wreath-adorned door when you least expect it.

Once you come up with a number for your line items, add up the total, and divide by the number of months left until Christmas. If you’re doing this now for the first time, that would be three - October, November, and December. That is the amount you need to budget starting this month to meet your Christmas budget.


Decrease Your Expenses

As I mentioned, you really don’t need to spend money on all this stuff. Every family is different, but I think we can all agree that extravagant spending doesn’t make the holidays any more special. How much you’ll spend has nothing to do with how much fun your season will be, and the amount you spend on gifts certainly has nothing to do with how much you love the gifts’ recipient.

I recommend setting a price limit on gifts, then searching for the right gift within that budget. Instead of being pre-sold on that $75 sweater for your sister, then stretching your budget to make it work, decide the maximum amount you’ll spend on siblings. If that sweater is just too much, then let it go. If you know ahead of time that your max is $30, you’ll need to find something in your price range.

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