With the holiday season only about 2 months away, I thought I share how I create a budget / shopping list! I love my lists!! Although I believe that Christmas is not about giving gifts I usually enjoy gifting to people that I care about. I think it's important to know your limits and buying gifts should never compromise your everyday expenses and things you and your family really need. The best gift you can give to anyone is a happy you who is not stressed out about how you will pay for these purchases. And in reality the best part of the holiday is the fact that you get to spend it (hopefully) with people that you love and who don't measure you by the kind of gifts they receive from you. That and all the yummy holiday foods!
The easiest way to save for Christmas is saving a little every month throughout the year, but If you haven't started don't freak out. Meaningful gifts don't have to be expensive, you just need to know how much you can spend!
Here is what I do to establish a Christmas Shopping Budget:
1. Make a list of people that I want to buy gifts for. (I love my lists :) )
2. Find out what is your total amount that you can afford/would like to spend. This is probably the most difficult step of this process. I usually look at my savings account and take a % of the total amount in there and come up with a reasonable amount that still leaves me with a good safety net. If savings is low, then I usually try to cut out some other expenses over the next couple of months.
3. Prioritize your gift list: Who do you want to give gifts most to? For me I would put my baby-girl on top, then other family, and my spouse, and last office exchanges and such. Then decide how much of your budget you will spend on each person. For sure my budget had shifted in recent years as I've become older and less gift centered.
4.Establish clear expectation with friends/family about gift giving guidelines. For example, years ago I had told all my friends that there is no need for us to exchange gifts anymore. Each year we all went out and bought each other something in the $25-$50 range and ended up spending couple hundred dollars, and in exchange getting stuff we didn't really want or need. So instead I now host a wine exchange party for my girl friends just before Christmas, and we all buy bottles of our favorite wines and exchange them. (This year will be our 4th annual vino exchange. Geeesh this makes me think back, when we first started we were all single now we're all married 1/2 with babies! ) It's a win win! We all love a little vino and it's definitely something useful especially around the holidays! I've also heard of cookie exchange parties, so if wine is not your thing that is another option! Also with my husband we only buy each other something small, and we both know it and don't go out buying something big!
5. Keep track of all your holiday purchases to make sure your are sticking to your budget. If you have overspent on one person, you should try to cut back elsewhere. I don't recommend going over your budget, since you don't want to create a financial burden for yourself. That alone will create stress & ruin the holidays. If you are done shopping and got great sales, don't be tempted to reach your budget amount! Stick that amount back in the savings and get a head start on next year!
Additional Holiday Shopping Tips:
Get your shopping done early! The earlier you start the more options you have and won't have to settle for last minute gifts. It's amazing how easily things jump & ideas jump at you when you start early vs. scrambling the last minute!
Don't forget about budgeting for gift bags / cards / wrapping paper! Your local dollar store is probably a great way to save on those!
Do you have any tips for holiday shopping & savings?