I cannot believe New Year’s Eve is less than 3 months away.
Before we ring in 2017, we have to get through the holidays first and now is the time to start getting you and your family squared away for the gift giving season.
Week 44 Challenge: Break out your calculator and make a holiday spending plan
Challenge Details: Review your spouse’s LES and your pay stub. Then, grab your monthly spending plan, so you can create a special worksheet that will detail your potential budget for the holiday season. Use this worksheet to keep track of your spending throughout the season to make it a fun-filled and debt-free holiday.
Your Deadline: November 7
Ready to make your holiday spending plan?
- Add up all your income.
- Add up all your bills.
- Subtract #2 from #1 to figure out your monthly disposable income.
We deal with our disposable income month-to-month already, so my small exercise is most likely something you already do at home. But I’m going to encourage you to do a little more with that figure to get a good meaty holiday spending plan for you.
Figure out how much money you can spend this holiday season
What other costs come your way each month that you typically spend money on? Be sure you take that figure into account when you are locking everything in.
As you are assessing your disposable income, this might be a good chance to cut down on erroneous spending. My husband and I are guilty of eating out when we don’t want to fix dinner.
Pro-tip: Instead of hitting a restaurant when we don’t feel like cooking, we hit up the commissary for easy, cheap and quick fixes.
Once you get a grasp of your disposable income for the next couple months, use a percentage to save for any emergency spending and the rest can be counted as holiday money. Don’t forget to account for holiday travel, if that’s on your agenda this season!
Set a holiday spending limit (and stick to it!)
You’ve figured out your monthly contribution for holiday gifts. Multiply that by how many months you have until you need to open presents and voila, that’s your limit and you should stick to it!
Divide your limit between each member of the family and if you are like me, I set limits within each individual as well because that will help me with putting together the shopping list later on.
If you set aside money now for your holiday spending, it’s already there for you and you can avoid going into debt during the holiday season.
Shop in small doses
After you put together your budget, start your list right away. Getting ahead on holiday shopping keeps you accountable and on track with your holiday spending plan.
Of course, there might be bigger gifts that would be worth the wait for sales coming up in November. Do your research on those items when putting together your holiday spending plan.
Shopping early and in small doses will help you stay on track with your budget and avoid going into debt.
Be selective when shopping
I love giving gifts during the holidays and tend to put a ton of people on the “nice” list, but it’s impractical to buy something for every single person you know. That’s why it’s key to keep your list selective as well.
Our immediate family members tend to get the brunt of the budget. Once you start branching out, consider what you would want to do to show your affection this holiday season. A thoughtful card with a personalized message might be enough.
Consider giving homemade gifts to friends
Homemade gifts are a great way to add more people on your list without breaking the bank because you can include the supplies in your overall holiday budget.
A beloved friend of mine sends baked goods to my family during the holidays every year. Because I used to live with her, I know the simple steps she would go through to put together a thoughtful cookie box.
She grabbed holiday boxes at the dollar store and ingredients at a grocer. All that is left is time spent to bake and then shipping costs to those that live far away.
Remember time together is worth more than any gift
My husband and I keep our home pretty simple for the holidays because we focus our efforts (and funds) on holiday travel. What matter to us is being able to enjoy our family’s company when we can or each other if it is challenging to go “home” for the holidays.