I don’t know about you, but the holiday season always seems to catch me off guard. I mean, it was only a month ago that we were preparing for back-to-school season and now we are heading into the end of the calendar year. While I’m not ready to decorate the tree just yet – it is time to consider the holiday budget. If only because I don’t want the New Year to arrive with accompanied by a pile of bills.
Consider that Holiday Budget Now
Ideally, we’d all make an effort to save incrementally throughout the entire year and have a small nest egg to put toward those holiday expenses. If you were smart enough to plan ahead, then give yourself a pat on the back. If not, read along as we discuss a few strategies to consider so you don’t overspend over the holiday season.
Create a Holiday Budget
First of all, if you don’t have a budget you need one. You knew I wasn’t going to let this go without suggesting you create a budget, right? You know me too well. The thing is that, without a budget, extra holiday expenses will creep in and you’ll find yourself spending money you don’t have for things you don’t need.
Can I get an amen?
Even if you do have an ample budget in place for holiday expenses, you may want to consider a few ways you can save even more money over the next couple of months.
One of the simplest ways to save money is to pay with cash. The same goes for your holiday budget. I prefer to grab a handful of small envelopes and stick in the exact amount of money I’ve budgeted for each expense. Not to mention, when you spend the money, you can keep receipts, gift cards, and other paper items in those same envelopes for reference later.
I’m all about shopping small and local, but sometimes it can be a huge money (and time) saver to shop online. If you are someone who has the tendency to purchase additional items in the store, then it might be a financially responsible choice to make. Keep in mind that a lot of in-store coupons can also be used online, so make sure to check on those before you place your order.
The sooner you start your holiday shopping, the more likely you’ll be able to find that perfect gift at the right price. You won’t be in a rush so you will have time to shop around for a good deal, use your coupons when they are valid, and even do some price comparison shopping online. If you do order online, you won’t need to pay extra for rush shipping.
Start a Gift Challenge
If you used my Holiday Budgeting template, you’ve already put together a list of the gifts you need for your friends and family. Isn’t it nice to know exactly what you plan on spending on each person?
Even though you’ve budgeted a certain amount per gift, why not try to save even more? I like to challenge myself to save a couple of dollars on each gift. If I’m shopping for 15 people, that money can quickly add up.
Of course, what you do with the extra money is up to you. You might choose to have a Starbucks Peppermint Mocha or add it all up to treat yourself to a manicure. I’m personally a fan of using the excess for a new holiday read.
Consider an Extra Turkey
I know, I know – it’s not quite Thanksgiving yet, but the moment November 1st rolls around, the price of turkeys in the store drops drastically. In fact, a lot of local stores offer a free turkey if you purchase a certain amount of groceries in a given shopping trip. Justin and I like to use this time to stock up on all of the goodies we might need over the course of the next couple of months. For example, canned goods like olives, pumpkin, and chili are perfect for filling the cupboards.
Sometimes we are able to get two to three free turkeys, which means significant savings when it comes time to host that holiday gathering. (Of course, this method only works if you have enough room in your freezer to store those turkeys, so inventory before you buy.)
Establish a One-Gift Policy
If your holiday budget is on the small size (or even if you want to keep it that way), it might the perfect year to establish a one-gift policy. This has worked well in our home for many years. Each person puts together a small list of items they might want. Normally there is one item desired more than the rest and that’s typically what shows up under the tree on Christmas Day. Of course, if it’s a really expensive item, then sometimes that gift is reserved for the next birthday or the grandparents go in on the cost.
We aren’t always able to stick to this, but it does help to keep expectations and costs at a reasonable level.
Have You Considered Your Budget?
Of course, these are only a few ideas to keep you on track with your holiday budget this year. It’s never too late to put a great plan together and stick to it. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself in January when you pack up the ornaments and decorations and can call Christmas a complete wrap.
How are you saving money this holiday season? Leave a comment below and let us know.