The last thing the holiday season should be is stressful, but let’s face it, most times it’s just that, stress-FULL. This series will give you tips to NIX that stress right out of your celebration. We’ll talk about how to lighten your load in areas like gift-giving, entertaining, holiday travel and your Christmas budget. Not necessarily in that order.
If you missed yesterday’s post about time saving, frugal gift giving, you can read it here.
I used to hate the “b” word. Budget.
I say “used to” because over the past few years I’ve changed the way I define this word. Instead of reminding me of all the things I can’t have, I choose to let the budget symbolize all the things I CAN have, within boundaries.
The budget shouldn’t and doesn’t go away during the Christmas season. Having one plays a crucial part in eliminating holiday stress. I know so many families who break the bank and max out their credit cards when buying Christmas presents. Bottom line? Overspending brings stress. There’s no way around it.
Here are a few tips to help you stay within your budget:
Make a list.
This includes not only making a list of the people you want to buy for, but also how much you plan on spending for each one and a few gift ideas that fall in that range.
When you make your list, go back over it and ask yourself “why am I buying a gift for this person?”. If you’re buying for them under compulsion or impulse, remove them from the list. If they’re not a close relative, someone you share a close friendship with or part of a gift exchange you’re involved in, reconsider whether you need to give a gift at all.
If you are part of a large family or a large group of friends, consider drawing names for gift giving. This allows you to pool more resources into just one gift instead of something for everyone.
If you can’t afford it, put it back.
If you’re running up credit cards or taking out loans to buy Christmas, then you’re spending outside of your healthy boundaries. You don’t have to overspend to give special gifts for Christmas. Be creative and think of less expensive but expressive gifts to give.
Baked items are wonderful for the working mom who doesn’t have time or energy to bake.
Watch the Daily Deal Sites to save big on vouchers to local restaurants or specialty retailers.
Give a gift basket of items you can purchase from several different places so you can hunt for the best deals.
Give a gift of services such as “free babysitting” for the couple who has no family close by or “free laundry services” for a college student.This is also where shopping all year comes in. It allows you to take advantage of the very best deals a little at a time. Or if you know you’d like to spend a little more on a gift, you can plan for it all year. This will give you time to look for deals, use coupon codes, etc.
Focus on what really matters
Christmas isn’t about buying everyone a present. It isn’t about going into debt. It’s not about appearing to have it altogether. And it’s most definitely not about keeping up with the Jones’. It’s about Jesus. It’s about sharing the blessed hope He offers with our family, friends and those who don’t know Him.
Determine NOW what your Christmas budget for NEXT year will be. Consider a reasonable amount according to your income and financial responsibilities and divide by twelve. Set aside this amount each month in cash. This is your Christmas spending money. Either let it accumulate throughout the year and do all your shopping in December, or spend a little each month as you discover great deals on the perfect gifts for friends and family.
Now that you’ve got your Christmas budget and gift giving under control, let’s talk about entertaining…tomorrow.