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Budgeting for Christmas

Posted By Jessica Fisher On July 26, 2010 @ 2:38 am In Budget Living,Christmas,Christmas in July | 27 Comments

Christmas of 2007 seemed bleak in some ways. That was the year we woke up and smelled the debt. About six months prior to the holiday season, we gave up using our credit cards and headed to uncharted territory. We started using cash to pay for everything. We got crazy that summer and aggressively started attacking our debt. Every penny was accounted for.

By the time Christmas rolled around, we had made some progress on our debt. But, despite extra monies that came in that December, we didn’t feel right about spending money on things we probably didn’t need with money that really belonged to someone else. Of course, I kicked myself for not having planned better. And though difficult, it was a good feeling to keep costs low.

We bought a $10 table top Christmas tree, I made our presents for the kids, and the grandparents outdid themselves making sure there was more than enough under the tree to make any kid smile.

Fast forward a few months to Christmas time 2009. I found shopping to be a very painful experience. Unlike past years, we actually had money to spend. We were debt-free and even saving a little money every month. But because we hadn’t earmarked it as “Christmas money,” it felt like I was stealing from savings to pay for Christmas.

A wise friend [4] suggested that I start a Christmas savings fund. Ah, yes, give every dollar a name — even the dollars you’re saving.


Spending struggles?

I’m sure each of us has different burdens to bear when it comes to Christmas spending. Maybe times are tough, and you are barely making ends meet during a regular month – forget about having extra at the holidays. Perhaps you compare the abundance your family enjoys with the want in others’ lives and have a hard time buying more. Or maybe you have no qualms whatsoever about spending, spending, spending, regardless of whose money it is — until the January bills start rolling in.

See? We all struggle in some way.

Let’s make this year different.

This year, let’s be purposeful in our Christmas spending. Let’ s not deal with guilt, panic, and a January bill.

But, how? The year is half over already. It’s already too late.

Too late? You’re still gonna spend money at the holidays, aren’t you? Well, plan for it today. Save for it. Budget for it.

Think through all your holiday expenses and allot for them, as this article [6] illustrates,

When you’re doing your normal written budget—the one you do every month before the month begins—remember there are added expenses during the holidays. If you’re taking your famous green bean casserole to 15 Christmas potlucks, you’ll have a larger grocery bill; add to the budget. If for the past 10 years you have fallen off the ladder hanging lights on your house, budget for the emergency room visit. Sit down and think for a minute about the expenses you normally have during the season and plan for every one of them.

Usually our December celebrations follow a certain pattern. We can look back and see what we did, where we went, what we spent and then plan for it next time by setting aside a portion of that money now. I created this Holiday Budget Worksheet [7] to help you and me plan for the holidays.

(True confessions, I didn’t start my Christmas savings fund until this month. But better now than not at all.)

As you do the math problem at the end of the Holiday Budget Worksheet [7], you’ll see the amount of money you’ll need to save in August, September, October and November in order to have the December you dream of.

[8]FishBoy6 back in 2007 – just as happy as could be

Adjust Your Budget

If that number is too big to squeeze out of your current monthly earnings, then you get to make some choices — now instead of December 24th.

  • Find areas where you can cut costs. Chances are you do things that aren’t essential at the holidays. You may like them, but they may not be absolutely necessary. For instance, you don’t have to send Christmas cards every year. {gasp} I stopped doing that about three years ago (say 2007?) and no one complained. I save precious time as well as about $100 every year by not sending them.
  • Find ways to earn more money. Have a garage sale, look for a part time job, sell some stuff on Ebay. Despite a “down” economy, there are still ways to make a little pocket change.
  • Adjust your expectations. My kids were just as happy in 2007 as they were in 2009. In fact, they may have been happier. 2007 was a lean year in many ways for our family, and it bred thankfulness in our hearts for the truly important things. We focused on experiences more than expenses. And I think we’re the better for it.
  • Remember the WHY [9]. Jesus doesn’t measure you by the decorations on your tree or the feast on your table. So why should you?

How do you handle holiday expenses?

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[6] this article: http://www.daveramsey.com/article/lose-the-january-bills-blues/lifeandmoney_budgeting/?ectid=lifeasmom1

[7] Holiday Budget Worksheet: http://lifeasmom.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/Holiday-Budget.pdf

[8] Image: http://lifeasmom.com/2010/07/budgeting-for-christmas.html/xmas-morn

[9] the WHY: http://lifeasmom.com/2010/07/jesus-is-why.html

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