Everyone dreams of a stress-free holiday season. That time between mid-November and January first is often a wonderfully busy time of year. We plan our Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas card list, and the cookies we want to bake but normally not before the beginning of November. But you know what can't wait until November first? Your Christmas budget. A stress-free holiday season begins with a solid budget plan and that begins January 1st.
The key to a successful family budget is thinking and planning ahead. Your family budget is more than cell phone bills and grocery expense – periodic expenses like Christmas must be included too.
4 Reasons to Plan the Christmas Budget Early for A Stress-Free Holiday Season
#1 – You've got fresh, relevant data
You just finished shopping, hosting parties, traveling and baking. How much did you spend? Even if you don't have every receipt there's a better chance you can recall rough numbers no than trying to wait until July. Knowing how much you typically spend on the holidays will help you succeed in staying on budget for the next holiday season.
#2 – Time is On Your Side
Think about how much money you spent on Christmas last year? $600….$1200….$1800. Let's assume you spent $600 a year for Christmas. If you start in January you only need to save $50 a month. The longer in the year you wait to begin saving, the more burden it will have on your monthly budget. If you start in July, suddenly that $600 you need means you need to save $100 a month.
#3 – You Can Take Advantage of Sales
Have you ever found something in June that you know would make the perfect Christmas gift for someone? Did you buy it? Did you actually have money or did you just buy it because it was an awesome deal on a great gift? By starting your Christmas savings envelope now you'll have money budgeted so when you find a bargain in the summer you can scoop it up without going into debt or dipping into money you need for other expenses.
#4 -You Can Focus on More Important Things In December
Some people stand firm in their decision to not buy into the commercialization of Christmas. The eliminates a Christmas budget altogether. Personally, I believe we can buy gifts for those we love and still celebrate the birth of Christ. This is easier to do when you consistently plan ahead. You can have a stress free holiday because money woes aren't plaguing you. You can enjoy time with family and soak in the beauty of the season without more debt weighing you down.
How To Start On A Financially Stree Free Holiday
Both finances and holidays can trigger stress and evoke anxiety. And when you start to think about holiday finances the stress can really begin to mount. This is why preparing for your Thanksgiving and Christmas needs (and wants) early in the year is so important.
If you celebrate any holiday with any monetary layout then it must be part of your monthly budget. The biggest two holidays for most families are Christmas and Thanksgiving with Easter running close behind. Remember, gifts aren't the only holiday expense. If you buy extra food, host large meals and family gatherings you will still need to include these expenses so you can stay within your overall budget.
Starting this process can be a daunting task but it is necessary. The first thing you need to do is gather up receipts or try to recall how much you spent on the holidays. Your stress-free holiday depends on thoughtful financial planning.
Did you spend, or will you spend money on any of these holiday items?
- Gifts (family, friends, office staff)
- Home decor (inside and outside)
- Extra meals
- Tableware (special centerpieces, plasticware, napkins, etc)
- Extra energy costs (more fuel to cook, more hot water usage)
- Pet Sitting
Make a list of how much you did spend or how much you will need to spend next year for these items. Divide it by the number of months until you start shopping for these things. That's how much you need to be saving each month to have enough to cover your holiday budget.
Your path to a stress-free holiday starts today. Don't wait until the holidays are bearing down on you. Start to plan now and enjoy less financial stress and more of what's truly important. Grab this Printable Holiday Worksheet to plan your fall and winter holiday expenses. Yes, you may need to have a shoe-string budget this year because you're late in preparation but guess what – that's okay! Focus on the real reasons you have to be thankful and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.
Printable Winter Holiday Budget Worksheet
How much do you spend on the fall/winter holidays?
Don't know where to start? Let me help you create a budget, set goals and get a handle on your finances.