It seems like Christmas is a long way off (only 96 days!) but now is the best time to start planning for it. As much as we don’t realize it the cost Christmas can really add up:
Presents for 2 kids $500
Presents for everyone else $500
A Christmas party outfit $100
Christmas dinner $100
Christmas Baking $100
Real Christmas tree $50
Just these few items added up to $1400!
Before you read on, take a minute to really think about what you want your holidays to look like. Quite often we get wrapped up in the whirlwind of the holidays and don’t realize what’s happened until well into January. Write down the most important traditions for you and your family, It maybe that you want to hold Christmas dinner this year or the enjoyment of making dozens of delicious cookies. Prioritize what you want to spend or do and what you would rather not.
Set a goal
After you’ve looked at what would make your holidays fulfilling, decide how much it will cost. Get an idea on how much you will spend on gifts. Estimate how much Christmas dinner groceries will cost you. Give yourself a decorating limit. Find that magic number that will give you the Christmas you want but still can afford. Start to put the money aside. It’s much easier putting away $100 a month in a savings account all year then coming up with $1200 in December. That small amount each month will alleviate a lot of the stress surrounding the holidays.
What about credit?
Look at the true cost of credit. If you charge $1000 for Christmas onto your credit card and just pay the minimum 3% payments after that you will be paying an additional $971! That’s almost the entire budget for next Christmas. So it’s better to save the money ahead of time to avoid the additional costs, if you do use credit make sure you have a plan to pay it off as quickly as possible.
The most important thing to do during the holidays is to make sure to enjoy your time with friends and family. Relax sit back and know that you have this Christmas paid for… You can worry about next Christmas the first of the year.
Tips for a Frugal Holiday
- Try a cookie exchange at work or church. Every one makes 2 or 3 batches and then swap
- Think homemade gifts. Make a calendar, photo album or recipe book
- Consider Secret Santa gifts with adult family members or coworkers
- Buy a potted tree and plant it in the back yard next spring
- Have the kids make homemade decorations, popcorn strings or construction paper and glitter
- Buy a timer for you outdoor lights
- Suggest a potluck dinner, you make the turkey everyone else makes the dressings