It is important to make a budget or plan, especially when working with a limited amount of money. You can tweak or change things along the way, but by staying within your limit, you won’t have to worry about credit card debt after the holidays are over. Simply put, if you can’t afford it, don’t buy it.
How do I get the money for Christmas?
Don’t wait until the holidays are at your doorstep before making your plan. Those who plan ahead can take advantage of opportunities not available to those who procrastinate. For example, in the summer you can go to garage sales and find great gifts for next to nothing. You can also make jam for gifts from the fruit in your garden.
You can have a great Christmas on whatever budget you have. Remember that “Necessity is the mother of invention.” You can be creative as you find ways to pay for Christmas.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Save $2 per week. By the end of the year, you will have $100 to spend.
Barter or trade with family and friends. Cut someone’s hair in trade for some hand me down clothes. Make homemade bread for someone in trade for some good used toys their kids don’t use anymore or for some garden produce that you can make preserves out of.
Use what you have around the house for gifts. If you have something already that you think someone might enjoy, use what you have. Maybe there is an heirloom, dishes, jewelry, books or clothing you can pass on.
Sell unused or unwanted things around your house and use the money for Christmas. I paid for all of our Christmas three different times by doing this. My minimalist home is easier to clean and I had the money I wanted to spend for the holidays.
How do I divide the money to pay for everything?
The first step is to figure out what you want to do for Christmas.
For whom will you buy gifts? The list can get very long if you buy for your spouse, kids, siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, grandparents, friends, neighbors, work colleagues, teachers, mail carrier, newspaper carrier, etc.
Do you have all the decorations you need for your home?
Do you have a tree, lights and ornaments?
Do you have Christmas stockings?
Do you have Christmas wrapping paper, bags and bows?
What Christmas events or activities do you want to attend?
Will you send Christmas cards? If so, you need to include postage and the cost of the cards or stationary if you are sending a Christmas letter. Will you send pictures?
Once you decide what you will be doing, you can make a plan for it to happen. You may have to cut out some things, but at least you will know where to start. Then you can assign a dollar amount to each category as you make your Christmas budget.
Here is a sample budget:
Start with $100 or whatever amount you have to spend.
Break it down into the categories you usually spend money on at Christmas time.
If you don’t have the money to do what you want, think of something else you can do instead or just skip it.
For example, if you can’t afford to send cards and pictures, make your own e-cards or letters and send them for free.
If you can’t afford new decorations, use the decorations you already have from last year. You can also make inexpensive decorations yourself as another option.
Do you need to buy extra food at Christmas, or can you figure out a plan to have nice meals on your regular grocery budget? Can you make bread or muffins for people instead of making a recipe with expensive nuts or chocolate? Most people get so many sweets during the holiday that bread or muffins would be a nice change.
If you can’t afford to buy everyone a gift, how about doing a white elephant exchange instead. You can also give gifts only to kids or skip gifts altogether and go serve in a soup kitchen.
After you assign an amount for each category of the budget, take some time and think about whether it is a realistic amount or not. Remember you can adjust your plan as you need to. Making a Christmas budget helps to cover all of the things you want to spend money on for the holiday. You set aside the money for each category, and you will be able to pay for your holiday expenses without having to go into any debt.
I hope that making a Christmas budget will get you excited about Christmas and all of the wonderful `things you can do to make this the best Christmas in whatever budget you have.