Holiday Budgeting Made Easier
There’s no easier way to blow the budget than showering all your favorite people with gifts and good food at the holidays. With a little planning, however, you can get more for your holiday dollar. Read on for our ways to curb holiday spending without putting a crimp in your fun.
Create a budget
Before you gear up for the holidays, take a stab at setting how much you have to spend by creating a holiday budget. If you already keep a monthly budget, you’ll easily see what’s at the disposal of your discretionary funds. If you’re super-organized, you may have been contributing to a holiday fund all year long (highly recommended), so you’ll be ready for the season.
Try to come up with a dollar amount per gift and for your holiday meals, both out on the town and at home. Then, you can plan the best ways to get what you want for less.
Make your gifts
We know that the people in our lives would be delighted with hand-made gifts, but it’s not always easy to find the time, let alone the ideas. Perhaps you have a natural talent, such as baking, beading, writing or making music. From Christmas cookies to a special story or recording, a gift that only you could give will be a certain favorite.
One enjoyable way to cut your gift budget is to organize your family, friends and office-mates into Secret Santa pools where each person draws a name out of a hat and purchases a gift for just that person. With a present swap, gift-giving is made easier — and your holiday budget will stretch much further.
A fun variation is to have everyone bring a gift under a certain dollar amount to a party, number each gift, and then have each person draw a number. Once the first gift has been unwrapped, the next person up can choose either to draw a new gift or to take a gift that’s been unwrapped, causing the previous recipient to draw again. The results can be hilarious as gifts continue to swap hands!
Shop smart, shop early
It’s a good idea to do your holiday shopping throughout the year, taking advantage of sales as you find them. With the availability of discount retail stores and online buying, you can likely find good prices on most any goods and services out there.
Consider writing your list of next year’s possible gifts as soon as the holidays end, so that you have some ideas in mind as you shop throughout the year. Try shops like Tuesday Morning, HomeGoods and Overstock.com. If you follow a site like Groupon, Scoutmob or LivingSocial, you can take advantage of their daily offers for all kinds of gift items, including restaurant and spa coupons.
For cocktail parties or holiday feasts that you host, don’t bear the burden of providing everything. Potlucks not only save the host money, but make everyone feel involved in providing the libations and tasty edibles. Guests end up with more variety and get to share their favorite dish or drink. When you send out your invitations this year, you might provide a way for guests to indicate what they would like to bring.
There really are ways to curb holiday spending without having to sacrifice the richness of the season. Start planning early, be inventive and involve your family and friends in sharing ways to give without going broke. Then plan to enjoy the happiest holiday season yet!
Photo Credit: Shutterstock/Brooke Becker