YOU NEED A BUDGET: Let’s talk Holiday Budgeting

COOL NEWS: You can sign up for a free 34-day trial at You Need a Budget here, no credit card required, to see if their easy budgeting software is right for you (I think it will be! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ).

Tell me if these Jingle Bells ring true:

In a blur of panic and eggnog, your tinsel is in a twist because youโ€™ve heard the news that cargo ships are stuck somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, and Santa’s sleigh may not make it in time for Christmas. So you’re frantically flipping through fliers and hearting hot ticket items in your online shopping cart…and it’s beginning to look a lot like spring 2020 when store shelves felt bare. Especially this year where the frenzy has begun earlier than ever before (thanks, supply chain), it can feel like a recipe for disaster if/when folks start blacking out in Target and buying anything + everything in sight for fear of it selling out a week later.

Here’s the thing: you need a budget. No really, you do – and I’m *stoked* to be teaming up with my friends at You Need a Budget to share a few important principles to use this season, to ensure your holidays are holly, jolly, and not broke. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Holiday Budgeting tips with You Need a Budget - on Coming Up Roses

Holiday Budgeting tips with You Need a Budget - on Coming Up Roses

Let's make a HOLIDAY BUDGET - with tops tips from You Need a Budget (+ a free 34 day trial!)

Let's make a HOLIDAY BUDGET - with tops tips from You Need a Budget (+ a free 34 day trial!)

YOU NEED A BUDGET: Let's talk Holiday Budgeting...

When J + I first got together – seriously together where our personal finances became a hot topic of date night ๐Ÿ˜‰ – the idea of building a budget came up. Now, J has always been *brilliant* with budgeting. Not only does he handle it for our family, but he handles it in a big way at his job and can make magic happen with money.

Meanwhile, I was *ahem* scared of the word “budget.” Growing up, I admittedly had a pretty poor money mindset. Since we weren’t rolling in dough, I more often than not came from a place of financial lack or scarcity, and my decisions likely reflected that. 

My idea of “budgeting” back in the day was separating all of my cash into envelopes decorated with magic markers for pre-destined expenses, from my first car to a senior trip to Disney World.

Turns out…I was onto something. ๐Ÿ˜‰ While I’m not hoarding cash in a box anymore, my envelope budgeting was actually *spot on* to You Need a Budget’s #1 budgeting principle, which is:

1.) Give every dollar a job.

Know exactly how you want to spend the money you have available – and ONLY the money you have right now – before you spend a dime.

This is all pointing at ensuring you actually HAVE what you need for what you want. I mean – makes sense, don’t you think? So first thing’s first: do a state of the union of your checking account. There’s much to be said for not spending money you don’t actually have – so appropriately assessing what you have NOW before planning how you’re going to spend what you think you might have later means less stress always.

Holiday Budgeting tips with You Need a Budget - on Coming Up Roses

2.) Embrace your true expenses.

Figure out what you really spend and treat those infrequent expenses (like twice-a-year car insurance) like monthly expenses in your monthly budget. This was a new-to-me strategy from You Need a Budget that just *clicked* and let me breathe a literal sigh of relief. See, I was always someone who did not do this – and then lo and behold, a big humdinger of an expense would arise – like my new laptop last month – and panic would ensue in my brain as my bank account took a hit. Really, the idea of embracing your true expenses isn’t meant to be restricting – it’s meant to be freeing! These expenses are there whether we want to think about them or not – and personally, I’d rather feel more in the know and in control of my finances yearround than feeling like a bus hit me and took my wallet. 

For holiday budgeting specifically, I think it helps to break down your expense categories so that you know exactly where each dollar is going, beyond gifts we plan on purchasing (since I think it can be easy to forget the full scope of expenses that pop up this time of year, and things add up!). Maybe that means:

  • Gifts
  • Stocking stuffers
  • Home decor
  • Meals
  • Travel
  • Christmas tree
  • Postage/gift wrap/shipping fees
  • Christmas cards
  • Holiday outfits
  • Charitable donations
In fleshing out your holiday budget, don’t forget things like your monthly mortgage, student loan payment, or any other periodic bills that won’t be taking a Christmas vacation. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Once you have the FULL SCOPE of ALL THE THINGS happening for the rest of the year, then you can start setting spending limits for specific categories (like gifts). This helps avoid overboard and/or overwhelm from going too hard on gifts and then having any buyer’s remorse come December 26th when you’re reconciling your finances. If you find yourself freaking out over your spending, especially around the holidays, consider something like a no-spend challenge to hit reset before the new year.
Holiday Budgeting tips with You Need a Budget - on Coming Up Roses
I created a new account to show you the inner workings of You Need a Budget so that our personal family budget wasn’t out on the internet – ha! But since it’s such a great interface on both desktop and app with easy functionality and clear tracking, I wanted you to be able to see that firsthand before signing up for your own free trial if you think it’ll be right for you + your brain, too!
Now, this next rule was the true gamechanger (and really, mind changer) for me personally when it came to how I felt about budgeting.

3.) Roll with the punches.

Accept that things change and your budget needs to be flexible. Another sigh of relief cued by the You Need a Budget plan! This was something that honestly took me too long to internalize as a budgeting grownup. But hey – better late than never, amiright? ๐Ÿ˜‰ I used to struggle in budgeting thinking that if I put something in a specific category or set a certain limit, that was it. It scared me, really, thinking BUT WHAT IF SOMETHING CHANGES?!?! I had placed concrete walls around line items in my brain instead of building moveable fences, and J and You Need a Budget really helped change my mind around that. Even if/when you set up a spending limit for yourself or have certain dollars allocated for certain things – if something changes, it’s okay. 
It’s okay!
It’s okay if you find *the perfect gift* for Aunt Sally and it’s a few bucks over budget – the budget can be (and should be!) flexible. Now, that might not mean going overboard in debt if “the perfect gift” is a tropical getaway – but don’t feel like you can’t shift money as plans shift, since they sometimes inevitably do. For gift-giving specifically, I recommend breaking it down into two sub-categories: MUST shop for, and Would LIKE to shop for. This gives you a bit more leniency while ensuring that the “musts” on your list (aka, mom and dad, your partner, etc) are covered first before extending into acquaintances, random church friends, etc.

Good budgets aren’t meant to feel like a boa constrictor around your bank account; rather, they’re meant to allow for MORE freedom in the long haul, acting as a no-shame way to manage your money with confidence and clarity.

And lastly, You Need a Budget reminds you to…

4.) Age your money. 

Break the paycheck to paycheck cycle by aiming to reach the point of using the money you earned last month to pay this month’s expenses. The goal? More margin, more peace of mind.
What’s cool here is that You Need a Budget helps you learn your trends and see how long money is in your posession before being spent – essentially helping you break the paycheck-to-paycheck mentality ASAP. Once the “age” of your money (which is shown right at the top of your budget) reaches 30-50 days, it means you’ve broken the cycle and are living on LAST month’s money (since approximately 14 days is the period between typical paycheck periods). More on that here – super interesting if ya feel like nerding out a bit and learning more. ๐Ÿ˜‰
Holiday Budgeting tips with You Need a Budget - on Coming Up Roses
COOL NEWS: You can sign up for a free 34-day trial at You Need a Budget – no credit card required! – to check out their award-winning personal finance software + proven method yourself to see if it jives with your brain the way it does with mine. They’ve got free video trainings + live workshops to help you dive into the method and community and build out your own proactive money plan.

Have you ever used You Need a Budget?

I hope these holiday budgeting tips help keep your holidays holly, jolly…and not broke. ๐Ÿ˜‰


*Thank you to You Need a Budget, a brand I lovelovelove, for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions and thoughts presented are entirely my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Coming Up Roses!