Did you know that the average American is prepared to spend over $1000 on holiday expenses in 2021? This includes everything from gifts to loved ones to Christmas decorations. In fact, over the past few years, Christmas has become increasingly expensive. That’s why you need to save yourself from overspending this season and set up a Christmas budget.
What’s a Christmas Budget, and why do you need one?
A Christmas budget is exactly what the name suggests–a budget for Christmas! This makes sure that you’re not overspending on your holiday expenses. You have to include all of your Christmas expenses under this budget. The budget should consist of gifts, decorations, holiday wrapping paper, electricity for those pretty Chrismas lights, and anything for holiday meals.
But setting one up can be a real challenge, especially if you’re pressed for cash. Here’s are 15 tips you can use to boost that Christmas budget:
1. Decide how much your Christmas budget should be
I can’t give you an exact number for how much a Christmas budget should be. That’s because how much this will depend on a lot of factors. For example, a person with a long gift list will need to have a bigger budget than someone with a shorter one.
But if you’re a parent, then, of course, you must be thinking about getting a gift for your children. Kids love the holidays, and it’s every parent’s dream to see their kids’ faces light up every Christmas morning.
But remember to not go overboard when planning your children’s gift budgets. I recommend no more than 10% of your monthly income per child. You can also try to talk your family members into pooling money together for a group gift.
2. Cut a few gifts from the Christmas budget
If you’re a little tight on money this year, there’s nothing wrong with putting some gifts on hold. You can choose to give gifts to just your family and closest friends. You don’t have to buy a gift for everyone, even if they’d appreciate it.
3. Can’t fit your gifts into your Christmas budget? Get creative!
You don’t have to buy the fanciest, most expensive gifts for everyone on your Christmas list. I guarantee that your loved ones will appreciate any kind of gift, even secondhand or DIY ones.
These kinds of gifts really help with staying under the Christmas budget.
4. Want to take the guesswork out of your Christmas budget? Just give cash!
Did you know that you could actually save money by giving cash gifts to your loved ones instead? If you give cash, you eliminate the hidden fees of gift shopping. You don’t spend on gas, just giving money and removing impulse purchases almost entirely.
Cash is actually a great gift for kids too. $20 may not seem like much to you, but to a kid, that’s a lot of money.
5. Track your expenses to make it easier to manage your Christmas budget
It doesn’t matter if you set a Christmas budget if you don’t know how you’ll spend it. Plan out how you’ll spend every single dollar, and don’t leave anything out. If you end up spending a little less than you expected to, then you should remember that you can.
6. Move money around within your Christmas budget
Some gifts you buy could vary in price based upon what the person would like, even if you set the same gift budget for everyone. You can always reallocate money within your Christmas budget. Just don’t even think about going over it!
7. Start saving for your Christmas budget early
What sounds more appealing: saving $60 every month for a year or spending $700 at once? You’d be spending about the same amount of money, but the former is much easier to do than the latter.
There’s also something called a Christmas Savings Club Account that you might want to look into. I have an article on the topic, which you can check out here.
8.Having a Secret Santa can save your Christmas budget
Is your gift list too long for your own good? Getting your loved ones to do a Secret Santa can be a great way to help your Christmas budget. Hosting one will ensure that everyone gets a gift, while you only have to spend on one!
9. Watch out for sales!
Sales are a great way to maximize your Christmas budget. When I go gift shopping, I wait for a sale and then buy as much as possible in one trip. Not only does this help me save a bit more, but it also saves on gas too.
One of the year’s biggest sales is the day after Christmas sale. Check out my article to find out how to make the most of it.
10. Don’t bother with certain holiday traditions
A lot of holiday traditions can really eat at your Christmas budget. Christmas lights are an excellent example of this. It costs about $12 to keep them on for six hours a day, every day in December. But that money could be put to good use elsewhere, like for gifts or holiday meals. Speaking of…
11. Stretch that Christmas Eve dinner
Every year, Americans waste about 25% of their food supplies during the Holiday season. Don’t be part of the problem, and try to save your leftovers. This will help you spend less on food and justify spending more on a single meal.
I know a few other ways you can spend less money on food. Check out my article on budget meal planning if you want to find out what they are.
12. Have some leftover cash in your Christmas budget? Save or donate!
While I would recommend saving whatever you have leftover, you might want to consider donating. One of my favorite financial experts, Dave Ramsey, recommends giving just 10% of your income. If you’re doing fine financially, giving back may be a great idea.
Dave Ramsey taught me a lot of things in my financial journey. I have an article that features a few other tips from him that you should check out.
13. Start thinking about next year’s Christmas
When you’ve spent everything in your Christmas budget, there’s bound to be a thing or two that you’ve learned. Make a note of it for the next time you’re going Christmas shopping!
14. Remember to get yourself something too
Don’t forget to get yourself something for all your trouble as well! Treating yourself keeps you sane–just remember not to go overboard! In my experience, the best thing you can do for yourself is…
15. Give yourself a gift that keeps on giving
It’s always nice to spend your money on something that will keep paying dividends—for example, a book to learn a new skill or an investment.
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