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Tell me if these Jingle Bells ring true:
In a blur of panic and eggnog, your tinsel is in a twist because you’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. 😉
When J + I first got together – seriously together where our personal finances became a hot topic of date night 😉 – 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. 😉 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.
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:
- Stocking stuffers
- Home decor
- Christmas tree
- Postage/gift wrap/shipping fees
- Christmas cards
- Holiday outfits
- Charitable donations
3.) Roll with the punches.
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.
Have you ever used You Need a Budget?
I hope these holiday budgeting tips help keep your holidays holly, jolly…and not broke. 😉
*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!