How to Make Your Holiday Budget Work for You

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How to Make Your Holiday Budget Work for You

A few years ago my husband was deployed, I was pregnant, money was tight, and it was Christmas.

I was stressed to the max at Thanksgiving when everyone was writing their Christmas lists and passing them around. One side of the family was doing Secret Santa, but I was really worried about how I would afford gifts for everyone else I wanted to buy for.

After some serious brainstorming, here are the 3 ways I have cut down on the cost of Christmas gifts over the years.

How to Make Your Holiday Budget Work for You

Spend Time, Not Money, on Gifts

That first year I made rice heating packs or tins of cookies for everyone. I barely knew how to sew, but I pulled out the sewing machine and started reading the instructions.

After Christmas I tallied up the cost of materials and it came to $150 TOTAL for gifts for all my friends and family.

Also, on top of saving money, the gifts were a HUGE hit. My brother refused to share his cookie tin with anyone, and I still get requests for new rice heating packs every few years. Since then, I’ve made blankets, hand warmers, stuffed animals, and shawls.

People love homemade gifts and cherish the time you invested in making them. Homemade gifts take a little more time, but between saving money and seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces, you won’t regret it!

Limit Your Gifts to Need, Want, Wear, Read

This is a great rule for the kids when it comes to your holiday budget. I can make homemade gifts for my extended family and friends but my own kids are a little trickier. I know they want the coolest and newest toys around, so this is a great way to limit the possible spending spree that would happen if I purchased everything on their wishlists.

You can limit your gift ideas to one thing they need, one thing they want, one thing they can wear, and one thing they can read. It also cuts down on the toy avalanche that seems to happen every time we open the playroom door!

Make the Case for Secret Santa for Your Extended Family Members

As I mentioned, one side of my family does Secret Santa. This means buying only ONE gift instead of one for every person. Then you get to sit around the gifts, and one at a time, each person gets to choose a gift and unwrap it. If they like a gift someone else has already opened, they can trade for it. It’s a fun game, gets the whole family involved with each other and putting their phones down, and saves everyone money.

After all, the holidays are about family time, thankfulness, and mindfulness, not how much money you spent on gifts.

This holiday season, don’t stress about buying everyone that expensive gift. Focus on enjoying the season, and being mindful about the gifts you give.

A gift from the heart is the best gift of all.

What are your tips for making your holiday budget work for you? Share them on the NextGen MilSpouse’s Facebook page. We’ll share your best holiday budget tips in an article in December. 

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