I know, I know, it’s March and Christmas seems so far away. But if you’re planning on making gifts and Christmas decorations, etc the sooner you start… the more organized and relaxed your holiday season will be. Starting now and going forward, each month on the 25th I’m going to be posting budget saving holiday ideas.
Budget Saving Idea #1
If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to set up a Christmas fund. Sit down and determine how much you can afford to spend for Christmas this year. Include all Christmas expenses: gifts, food, gas money or air plane/train tickets to travel to visit family, anything that is an expense that is specific to the way you plan to celebrate the holidays. Divide that number by the number of paydays from now until November 25th. Then each pay day transfer that set amount of money into the fund.
Why November 25th rather than December 25th?
One of the biggest budget busters is last minute shopping, whether that be for gifts or food, so you want to have your Christmas fund fully funded by the week of Thanksgiving. This will also allow you to take advantage of pre-holiday sales to stock up on the baking supplies and turkeys that go on sale the two weeks before Thanksgiving.
For example, I always buy at least three turkeys during the pre-Thanksgiving sales; one for Thanksgiving, one for Christmas and one for Easter. If I have enough freezer space to squeeze in more, I buy more because our family loves turkey. You, of course, will tailor your purchases to suit how your family celebrates.
Something else that you’ll want to tailor to your own family’s needs is whether you allow yourself to tap into that fund before November. Because I try to make the majority of our gifts, I do allow myself to tap into the portion of the fund that we’ve budgeted for gifts to buy fabric or whatever materials are needed to make that particular gift.
And starting in October, I’ll be watching for seat sales to bring our kids home for Christmas. When they are attending university/college, we pay for the full cost of their flights. Now that our two oldest have graduated and have stable jobs, we pay half if they want to come home for Christmas. Once they become more established with families of their own and as Dave and I draw closer to retirement, this will be phased out.
Which brings to mind another big budget buster and why having a predetermined Christmas budget is so important. Your family’s budget is going to look different than my family’s budget. You may be single or just starting your family. You may have a house full of teenagers. Or you may be empty-nesters on the verge of or already in retirement. Whatever season of life you are in, only you can determine what things to include in your list of holiday expenses. And by sitting down ahead of time and figuring out what exactly those expenses are, you’ll avoid the pressure come December to try to make your Christmas look like those of other family members and friends.
Now for this month’s budget saving Christmas craft idea, check out how to make Free Homemade Gift Tags.
I hope you’ll join me each month for my Christmas on a Budget Series. And please feel free to share your own budget saving tips in the comments.
Edited to add links to Christmas on a Budget Series posts: