As amazing as the holidays are they can also be super stressful. Especially when it comes to money. Although I think most of us would agree that the holidays are about family, the truth is there is a lot of money spent during these months. And it’s not only on gifts, there is also food, entertaining and decorating to consider. It’s easy to go overboard. Here some simple ideas to help you stick to your holiday budget. Plus join my mailing list for a free holiday budget printable that goes along with this post!
Write it out and stick to it! My biggest problem is that I set a random number that I would “like” to spend, but then blow past it when I find a bunch of other amazing things for the person. By sitting down and writing what you plan to get the person and how much you are willing to spend, you are more likely to stick to that budget number. Carry your list with you when you go out so you aren’t tempted to get something off the list.
Start early and be on the lookout for deals! Ok, yes, I know, you do not want to be one of those people that starts going Christmas crazy in July. I get it. I am not suggesting that you start decorating in July, but if you see something earlier in the year that could be a great gift pick it up. It’s easier to spend the money over a longer period of time than in the holiday rush of the last two months before the holidays. Start your budgeting/planning process in October so that you can be ready when deals pop up.
Minimize the number of gifts for kids! Kids usually have enough stuff — at least my 11-month-old certainly does. I love that my family and friends spoil him especially because it means I don’t have to 😉 You may have heard of the Four Gift Christmas Challenge. It’s where you only buy four gifts that fit into the following categories: something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read. This helps manage expectations and saves your budget. This is great, but I actually found one I like better which is the Four-L Challenge from my brilliant friend Sara at Get Mom Balanced. Her challenge is to find gifts that fit into these categories: Love, Laugh, Learn, and Longevity. This doesn’t just apply to kids, you can do this for your spouse/family members too.
Buy one big gift for you and your spouse! I admit I go overboard and spoil my husband on Christmas (not that he is complaining). But, now with a baby, every penny counts. Over the last couple of years, we have had several big expenses for which we were saving money (wedding, baby, down payment for a house, etc.). We got in the habit of choosing one larger item that we wouldn’t normally spend money on. Last year it was a really nice camera because we knew we would want great pictures of Aiden.
Mix in homemade items! If you are worried about quantity, try buying one or two medium expense items and then mixing in a few handmade or “cheap” options. Here are some ideas for easy DIY gifts that you can easily add to give the illusion of more gifts. Another easy way to save some money is to re-use things like comics or denim to wrap gifts instead of using wrapping paper.
Give the gift of an experience! One of my favorite go-to gifts for married or dating couples is the gift of an experience. For example, movie or concert tickets or a vineyard/brewery tour. There have been studies that experiences are more fulfilling than things and by purchasing one gift for two people they get to enjoy each other and you get to save money! Keep in mind sites like Groupon and LivingSocial which offer discounts on tons of really fun local experiences.
To save on gifts and entertaining, use sites like Ibotta and Ebates to get cash back on purchases and CouponKarma to find the best deals. Sometimes you may need to go to a couple of different stores to save some money.
How do you stick to your holiday budget? Let me know in the comments!