Tell me if these Jingle Bells ring true:
In a blur of panic and eggnog, your tinsel is in a twist because you’ve still gotta find the perfect gift for Aunt Karen and Cousin Pam BUT…you’re already over budget. You went a little overboard on the kids and spent a bit more on Uncle Bob, and now you’re afraid to check your account balance because you fear it’s less than decorated.
I feel you, sistah.
In my recent Holiday Shopping survey, SO MANY OF YOU said that one of your biggest pain point, frustration, or struggle of the season surrounds holiday budgeting. How to budget for the holidays can be TOUGH when it feels like everywhere you look is another expense or another thing vying for your attention (+ wallet). No worries – we’re tackling some holiday budgeting tips today with the credit repair leaders at Lexington Law, to ensure your Christmas is holly, jolly, and not broke. 😉
First thing’s first: List out expense categories. In any budgeting, it’s important to break down everything into “line items” so that you can see how much is going where. For holiday budgeting purposes specifically, this might look like…
- Stocking stuffers
- Home decor
- Christmas tree
- Postage/gift wrap/shipping fees
- Christmas cards
- Holiday outfits
- Charitable donations
Start with your current state of checking. This might sound basic, but it’s totally essential – how much money do you have to spend on the season? I say “on the season” because the totality of your bank account should not be now Christmas money – ha! Benchmark out the
totals that you’ll need for mandatory expenses through the rest of the year (rent or mortgage, utilities, everyday eating, etc).
I think it’s important to also mention that it’s worthwhile to consider a no-spend challenge from right now until the time you’re planning on starting shopping. Or, a no-spend challenge on certain items that might be getting more of your discretionary money in other seasons.
Next, set a spending limit for gifts. In my own holiday budgeting, I don’t always do this justbecause I have two other methods that come into play here: setting a number or setting a theme. Ideally, doing those two things together. I don’t really favor setting a number of gifts, because I don’t think it should be about a number of gifts at all – it’s always the thought that counts, and one gift that’s the most thoughtful far outweighs a number of random or meaningless things. BUT, especially if you’re someone who tends to go a bit – *ahem* – overboard on the gifting, set a spending limit to stay under per person so that you’re not shopping ’til you’re dropping your account numbers to the negatives. 😉 (HOT TIP from Lexington Law for the hothothot credit cards in the house – put your card on ice, literally, to stop spending!)
To do this, especially if it feels difficult or impossible at first glance, start by breaking it down into a few gifting categories:
- MUST shop for
- Would LIKE to shop for
Looking at both lists now, would you rather spend more on a MUST, or spread the lovelovelove and add a few would-like-to’s to the list? Once you’re at a pretty good place here with your shopping list of WHO, it’s time to get to HOW. Maybe you’ve set your per-person limit already, maybe not – either way, the goal is to maximize the amount you can spread around without sacrificing in other areas, and without making unwise spending decisions.
Find extra funds where you can. Money might not grow on trees, but if we can make it appear faster around the Christmas tree…we’re gonna do it. 😉 A few of my personal favorite ways to make it happen…
- Coupons. Your girl is a coupon QUEEN. Clip from the paper, stock up online – do what ya gotta do to cut bucks off of your bills.
- Gift cards. Do me (+ yourself) a favor…go through your junk drawer. You know, the one in your kitchen that’s a dump-all for everything? I went through ours the other day and found FOUR brand spankin’ new, totally untouched gift cards for the spending. It was a whopping $350 worth of free money to help with holiday costs – worth it!
- Extra cash online. You can make a few easy bucks here or there with different online activities, like taking surveys or freelance writing. It’s not like a second salary, but every little bit could help when you’re dishing out dollars left and right.
- Credit repair. I’ve talked about it before, and for good reason! The credit repair leaders at Lexington Law may be able to help. Credit repair could/should be top of mind this time of year especially, if/when folks go a bit too overboard in spending. With many unfortunately going into debt around the holidays, you may not realize the negative repercussions that can have on your credit score – and the negative repercussions a lower credit score can have on other bigger ticket decisions + items down the line. While you’re never guaranteed free money in the credit repair process, you may be eligible for funds back if you’ve been victim to things like identity theft, student debt, medical debt, divorce, or military leave and your credit has been negatively affected by it. Call a credit consultant at Lexington Law or sign up online for a credit report consultation to see if credit repair is the best next step in your own credit journey! Sign up for a Lexinton Law credit report consultation here!
When holiday budgeting, it’s important to obviously STICK to your budget. How? I like to use envelopes and an easy cash system while shopping – it helps you avoid getting swipe happy in store! If you’ve got your set per-person limit, simply put that exact allocated amount in an envelope labeled with their name. That way, you’re only allowed/able to spend your budgeted number and not a dollar more!
A few additional holiday budgeting tips…
- Plan your shopping around sales and your calendar around affordable activities/events. ‘Tis the season for every sale under the Christmas tree, so be smart with your shopping and plan accordingly! (Bookmark CUR for that, ’cause I’ve gotcha covered – in-depth Black Friday + Cyber Monday coverage to come, as well as gift guides galore!).
- Don’t use Layaway. This article from Lexington Law shares why – and it makes so much sense.
- Shop financially-consciously. And THIS good article from Lexington Law can help with that – they’ve got some great recommendations for unique gift ideas that you might not have thought of yet!
- Pause recurring subscriptions. If you’re willing/abe to forego your extra TV subscriptions or pause gaming apps, etc, those all add up!
- Do as the millionaires do and sleep on bigger purchase decisions before pulling the trigger. This could help avoid any buyers’ remorse and keep you focused on your bigger holiday budgeting goals!
What tips + tricks are most helpful in your own holiday budgeting?
Do you do anything that I missed above?
*Thanks to Lexington Law, a brand I lovelovelove, for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions + thoughts presented are entirely my own. Thank YOU for supporting the brands that support Coming Up Roses!