STEP ONE: Make a Review
Last year you celebrated the same holiday as you will this year. How much did you spend? Take a little time to gather your receipts (or use your banking records) to determine what you spent and on what. Did you buy gifts? For how many people? Were you responsible for part or all of a holiday meal? What did it cost to make it? Did you send out greeting cards with the famous story of what is up in your world? How many did you send out? How about making memories with your family? Where did you go? What did you do? These are all questions you need to start thinking about and evaluating before you can make an educated plan for your holiday budget.
Step Two: What Can You Afford?
We need to be honest with ourselves on this part. What can we realistically afford to spend on our holiday season this year? Were you able to tuck a few extra funds away each month? Take some time and determine how much of your income that you have coming in can be allotted to your holiday budget. It will require a little mathing, so let’s take a second to try some.
If you get paid every other week, there are six paydays before Christmas.
For each payday you put $150 away for your holiday budget.
$150 x 6 weeks = $900
With this Budget strategy in mind you could reach your budget of $900 by the week before Christmas. Plenty of time to pick up the last minute gifts, and use your budget along the way to grab gifts, decorations and food for your holiday events.
Step Three: Build the Budget
We have made it all the way to step three. You have seen what you were able to do the year before, you know what you can do for this year, so now we need to put it into action. We are going to break it all down into categories, and then determine how much you want to spend for each category. Here are some ideas that you can go with:
- Wrapping Supplies
- Holiday Meal
- Greeting Card/Postage
- Holiday Travel
- Memory Making Activities
- Giving Back
Once you have your categories, you can assign a dollar value to each, and then use a cash/coupon pocket to allot the money for each category and start your holiday spending. You can also use your cash and coupon pocket as a cash envelope system.
Working with a budget can sometimes be stressful and overwhelming, but think about the aftermath of the holidays while having to pay interest on a credit card, and having to stretch your dollars a little further, which means that you are paying for the holidays long after it is over. Try this method this year and see how it goes.