Budget! Budget! Go away! Come again another day! The simple thought of making a budget and sticking to a budget makes me cringe. I know I’m not alone.
Any budget process can be dreary. But the discipline of creating your Christmas budget and sticking to it can actually free you up to have the best Christmas ever!
So with that in mind, here are five easy tips to help you stick with your Christmas budget.
- Make your budget now. Even though we’re still X days away from Christmas, the sooner you have your budget, the sooner you can get shopping and feel good about it! There’s two basic parts to your Christmas budget-1) what is the total amount you have to spend, and 2) approximately how much do you have to spend per person. Part of the joy of Christmas is finding perfect presents for the people that you love. If you focus your efforts on finding great, personal gifts, instead of matching a specific budget amount per person, you will have a lot more fun and still come in within your budget.
- Don’t make a detailed list. When you go grocery shopping, the way to keep from spending too much is to make a detailed list. When you are Christmas shopping and you want to stay within your budget, make a general list of ideas. That will help you find wonderful gifts when you are inspired-instead of hunting for one specific item. For example, my niece likes horses. If “Breyers horse barn” is on the list, I will have already decided the perfect gift. When I find out it costs $50, which is out of my budget, I will be disappointed. Instead, if “items for horse collection” is on my list, then I am free to find what speaks to me. Like at the local craft fair where I can get a custom name picture with horses on it. A very great and personal gift, and only $25.
- Keep receipts. The fun thing about using an approximate amount per person is that you have flexibility in how much you spend. The challenge about budgeting that way is you have some flexibility in how much you spend, and increased risk in going over budget. So, keep an envelope accounting in your purse or wallet. If you get close to your limit and you still have presents left to buy, then you may need to return some items and make different choices.
- Shop early. Conventional wisdom says that shopping last-minute will get you the best deals. But that is not necessarily so, especially this year. And the downside is that you will be under pressure, out of time, and low on patience-all a recipe for disaster as far as your budget is concerned. If you shop early you will have the presence of mind to make great choices, have fun, and end up with some fabulous gifts.
- Shop with your heart. Don’t go for the latest gizmo or gadget. Go for a personal gift that reminds you of the recipient. Share with them something you love. Let them know that you thought about them individually, rather than just bought them a present. And I know you will find things that cost less, and keep you within your budget.