Holiday on a Budget: Making a Plan

| November 4, 2012 | 19 Comments

Have you ever experienced buyer’s regret in January, once the credit card bills start rolling in reflecting your holiday spending? I know that I have.. there’s just something about the season that prompts many of us to overspend. Whether it’s decorations, special foods, gifts for every person that we know, holiday parties, new outfits, or any of a myriad of other things, December is one time when we may forget about our budget temporarily. Unfortunately, this takes its toll and can get the new year started off on the wrong foot.

Take a stand this year and make a pre-new-year’s resolution to not blow your budget. Here are some tips:

  • Know what you’re up against. Go through your holiday items from last year so that you don’t buy duplicate items. If you already have enough lights for the tree, then don’t buy more! You may have a stockpile of wrapping paper, gifts set aside for various family members or seasonal candles that still have a lot of scent left. Take an afternoon to check up on what you’ve got, then make a list of what you still need.
  • Next, make a list of gift ideas. Decide who you need to buy for and list their names, along with several ideas for each person. When you wander around in a store aimlessly, you’re more likely to spend too much on items that your recipients don’t really want or need, causing you to spend even more money the next time you go out. Having a plan in place can help thwart overspending.
  • Don’t leave home without your list. If your ideas are sitting on the kitchen counter and you’re at the mall, it doesn’t do you any good. Put it in your purse and take it with you every time you go out.
  • Make a budget and track expenses. Since holiday shopping can really add up, you need to start with a set amount of money in mind. Sit down with your spouse or partner, if applicable, and iron out exactly what you expect to spend. Write down every holiday-related penny spent. This will help you to see if you’re spending too much in general or on one particular category of items.
  • Talk to you extended family members if things are tight. Even if you’ve always purchased gifts for every aunt, uncle and cousin, with the economy being what it is, it might simply have become a tradition that no one really knows how to get out of. A sit-down early in the season might put everyone’s mind at ease. Perhaps you could suggest a shared meal together or some other experience in lieu of gifts.

Remember that whatever you spend now will catch up to you in January, and that most of the time, overspending isn’t worth the stress. You can have a beautiful and meaningful holiday without breaking the bank or blowing your budget, and it will be just as memorable for you, your kids, and your extended family!

Comments (19)

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  1. Ana Cláudia says:

    plan is the best way to not forget anything

  2. Jessica Thompson says:

    Planning is a great way to save money

  3. Rachel says:

    Thank you for this. My holiday spending is erratic, I need to make a plan of attack. Thanks for the ideas!

  4. Shanna says:

    Thanks for the tips! Things will be tight for us this Christmas and we’ll definitely have to keep spending in check.

  5. Kelly R. says:

    These are some really great and very realistic tips. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Jenn says:

    Some great tips. I start planning early, and try my hardest to stay on my list.

  7. Mary Walker says:

    I really need to set a budget and that’s the one thing I never ever did.

  8. Debi H. says:

    You touch on a lot of great ideas. I usually have an idea of how much I want to spend but don’t usually work out a budget on paper. I do make a list with names and an idea or two for each person. I do some research online too so that I have an idea how much stuff is going to cost.

  9. Kristie Betts says:

    To help me with my holiday shopping I shop all year round, that way I’m not swamp in November and December 🙂

  10. Lindsay Lee says:

    I have a holiday binder that I keep track of all of the presents I have bought so far in. I also budget every paycheck through out the year for Christmas. That way I never have to worry about not having enough and it also is great because if there is a hot deal through out the year I am able to snatch that up. These are some awesome tips you posted!!!

  11. Amy Clark says:

    We have that problem – buying for aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. It gets expensive! This year, however, I am making them a treat in Ball jars. Much less expensive, but still thoughtful!

  12. Rosanne says:

    Thanks for the good tips. I always spend the months after regretting how much I spent

  13. Summer Davis says:

    We really had to cut back this year because we moved to a new state and they charge highway AND vehicle taxes when you renew your tags. We had NO idea. We had budgeted $200/car for tags this year but when we went to get our tags renewed a couple of weeks ago, it was nearly $400/car! Our kids have $100 budgets each and I don’t think we’re going to do anything for our parents. We got a like-new train table at Goodwill for our 21 month old little boy. It came with a really nice train set too, for only $35. It isn’t going to be a BAD Christmas, just a creative one.

  14. Liza says:

    I always overspend during this season and I always regret it. Thanks for these wonderful tips, I’ll work hard to limit my expenses.

  15. Misti Morris says:

    I figure ahead of time how much I will spend on each person I buy for and shop all year round …sometimes things I get at a steal when I buy after Christmas sales ,I save the gifts for the following year.

  16. Tara says:

    My husband & I agreed on an amount & are sticking to it. Like he said, there is no sense going broke trying to have a Merry Christmas!

  17. Jennifer Mae Hiles says:

    So true, if I forget my list at home, I end up wondering around clueless and wasting time. Now I keep a list on my phone because I know I’ll always have it with me!

  18. Jennifer Jordan says:

    Thanks for posting. These are great tips. I have not purchased anything on credit cards this Christmas and it makes me feel great!

  19. Karen Glatt says:

    It is important to stick to a plan when Christmas Shopping. To many times we want to make the people we love happy,and we overextend ourselves by spending too much. After the Holidays are over, it is not a happy time for some folks because they got themselves in debt!

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