It’s October. Most people think Halloween and Fall foliage, but then there are the retailers who put up their Christmas displays right across from the “sexy” witch costumes to remind us that it’s time to start shopping for gifts. I don’t need to see that (I mean the Christmas displays. Sexy witches are fine). I’m there trying to put the final touches on my “Macho Man” Randy Savage costume (may he rest in peace). That’s my gift… to the world. But the fact remains, the holidays are creeping up on us. Time to think about your budget.
Step 1: Start saving
If you don’t already have money in your budget for the holiday season, then it’s time to start saving. Here are some ideas to put into action over the next few months, or maybe beyond…
- Cut out some premium channels from your cable plan. Or cut cable altogether!
- Start packing a lunch or bringing leftovers to avoid buying food at work.
- Cancel the gym membership and work out at home.
- Quit expensive habits. No smoking (that’s a whole different issue). No candy. No soda. No lattes. No magazines. No… whatever you could do without.
Step 2: Make your list
Who are you shopping for? If you have specific people in mind, then you’ll avoid overspending. You don’t have to give something to everyone you ever met. Try keeping your list short by sticking to family and your closest friends. Make it known that you’re cutting back on gift-giving, and maybe you can avoid the uncomfortable scenario of receiving a gift from a friend and having nothing to return.
Step 3: Make a budget
You should have a dollar amount in mind when deciding what you want to give to each person on your list. Yes, it kind of feels like you’re placing a dollar value on each of these people, but you need to have a limit. Be aware of what you can afford to spend. Just remember that the amount spent isn’t important, but the thoughtfulness of the gift is. Some of my proudest gift-giving moments took place when I was broke.
You can find an actual Holiday Budgeting Worksheet HERE (from ConsumerCredit.com)
The great thing about this worksheet is that it includes not only your gift budget, but also decorations, food, parties, etc. All of the things that seem to cost you money during the holidays, but forget to budget for.
If you’re struggling to pay off debt, schedule a free credit counseling session today.