Hello and Happy Holidays!
The holiday season is magical - everyone is friendlier; our houses are decorated so prettily; there is rich food everywhere; and heartwarming music is pouring from every public speaker. It’s the season of love and kindness! Unfortunately, this season is the hardest time of the whole year to stay on a budget. Everything is sparkly and beautiful and there is a frenzy to buy, buy, buy!
It should be no surprise that people become the most interested in financial fitness in January and February. The holiday highs from eggnog and sparkly lights start to fade, and people start to get the credit card bills! Our Financial Peace University classes tend to be the fullest in the Spring! (Here is a link to sign up for the next class starting Sunday, January 21st, 6-8pm!)
But wait - there’s good news NOW. You don’t need to wait until you are in debt from the holidays to work on your financial health - make a list today (aka budget) before you start buying.
It’s December 1st!
Christmas is right around the corner! 25 more days of saving and spending. 25 days to budget!
Add up your Christmas savings to date. How much do you have and how much more will you be able to save? This amount will need to be spent wisely on your spending priorities so you don’t have to pull out the credit card to spend money that you don’t have. Let’s call this amount your “Christmas Fund”, aka your “red Santa Hat stuffed with cash”.
What are your Christmas spending priorities?
Elf on a shelf
I’m always surprised how much I spend on little things that can get ‘lost’ in the budget. Like, am I going to a potluck? This seems like an inexpensive way to celebrate with friends, but I can easily forget just how much did I spend on hostess gift, wine, and the dish to pass? Maybe I need some new lights? How much did I spend on new decorations? I love to send out Holiday Cards, but would never remember to include the cost of postage in my budget! It’s easy to forget all the ‘extras’ that cost money during the holiday season.
With that in mind, it is super important that you write down a list of everything that you want to spend money on this Holiday, and then order your list by what matters first, second, etc..
If you want to avoid going into debt over Christmas, then you need to stick to your Red Santa Hat Stuffed With Cash fund. You can do it!
For example, let's say that you made your list and ordered it like this:
4. Christmas Cards
You have $2000 in your Red Santa Hat fund.
First buy the tree, $70
Then some decorations, $130
You now have $1,800
You can estimate that you will spend $100 for Christmas Cards and postage and $100 for parties.
You have $1,600 left for presents
Divide the total among all your gift recipients - family, friends, coworkers and teachers. Use these numbers to set spending limits. If you decide to make people presents to reduce spending - remember to include the costs of the materials in your budget!
Most people make the mistake of thinking that all of their Christmas budget can get used for the presents. They might think, I have $2,000 for presents and not deduct the tree, decorations, cards and parties above (which totaled $400). So, even if they stick to their $2,000 budget for the presents, they are still $400 over budget for the whole holiday.
Keep records of what you buy and how much you spend, so that you will be able to reference it for next year (and have a goal for how much to save).
For next year, use the numbers from this year to come up with your Holiday Spending Total! This will give you a monthly savings goal and keep you on budget for just the right amount of cash put aside for next year’s Red Santa Hat Fund.
Let’s make 2018 a year that we spend less than we make!