Now that you have your calendar all nice and tidily organized (you do, don’t you?), it’s time to move on to Day Two of our awesome Christmas preparations. Yep, it’s time to have a look at that budget.
I know, I know. Most of us hate to even think about budgets, but to reduce stress and worry and ugly surprises, it really does pay to do a bit of budgeting.
Christmas budgeting is actually easier than a person might think…as long as you’re willing to tell yourself NO about some things. (Unless you’re ridiculously wealthy…then you may not need to reign yourself in…but you should still have a grasp on how much you’re spending.) 😉
So, let’s do this step-by-step, shall we?
You know how much money you make. (I hope!) You know how much money you’ve saved for Christmas. (I hope!) You know how much your bills are. (I hope!) How much money can you reasonably afford to spend for Christmas? (Without putting things on credit…without paying bills late…without causing yourself financial heartache.) This number will vary wildly from family to family, and that is so okay. Even a teeny tiny budget can create an amazing holiday experience! (And let’s all take a moment to remember that money truly isn’t what makes Christmas wonderful.)
Now that you have a number in mind, it’s time to make a list. (Oh, I do like a list!) I think budget tragedies often strike because we forget to account for all of the costs of Christmas…because it goes well beyond presents! So, let’s have a look at things that money may need to cover:
- Decorations – If decorations need replaced or embellished, don’t forget that these things cost money. This includes your Christmas tree if you buy a live tree each year. (We do…we’re willing to take the hit to the “present budget” in order to have a live tree. Other people would rather not. Do what works for you!)
- Food – Oh my goodness, the food! Christmas dinner, cookies, cakes, treats, special Christmas morning breakfasts…all of it needs to be accounted for. (This is not to say that you need an itemized list of flour and sugar prices, but do stay aware of that grocery budget!)
- Family events and traditions – If your family goes to the movies or the ballet or the ice skating rink every year, include it in your budget. If you leave out imported cigars for Santa, include that in the budget. (Also, that’s a bit weird…go, you!) Those little bits that make Christmas special for your family…don’t forget them in the budget.
- Travel – If you go out of town for Christmas, don’t forget the cost of travel.
- Presents – All of them…and their gift wrap, too! Children, significant other, friends, family, your mail delivery person, piano teacher, dog groomer…whoever you buy presents for, account for it. And don’t forget stockings! Oh my, the stockings…filling those puppies is far from free.
- Performances and parties – Host/hostess gifts, potluck goodies, tea with friends, event tickets…include all of that.
- Any-bloomin’-thing else you can think of – We all have different situations and traditions, so there’s no way I’ll be able to cover every budget item for every person. If you have another expense, include it in your budget. 😉
Total up all of your expenses. Compare that number to the number you came up with in Step 1. How do things look? Can you reasonably afford everything? If so, great! If not, don’t fret…it’s actually pretty easy to cut a lot of expenses in each of those categories. We’ll talk more about ways to cut expenses later, but, for now, we all know what we’re up against.
Even if you don’t feel like you have enough money to do all that you want for Christmas, please, please, please don’t be upset! There really are so many ways to save…and so many ways to create magic with very little (or no) money. And your friends and family will love the stuffin’ out of you even if you can’t afford a single present…because you’re you, and you is awesome. 😀
Want to see some of the suggestions, tips, and ideas I’ve used to create awesome holiday fun without spending a gazillion dollars? Check out the Home for Full-Grown Nerds Facebook page. 🙂 I’ll be sharing all sorts of stuff there!
What about you? Have you ever been overwhelmed by Christmas expenses because you forgot to include all of the non-present expenses? Do you have great ideas for keeping Christmas budget friendly? Do you think you could have a beautiful, magical holiday without spending a single penny? (I don’t know if I could do it, y’all.) 😉