During the Christmas holiday season, one thing that’s immensely easy to do is to overspend. Of course, breaking the budget can lead to stress, anxiety, debt and no money left for anything else. That’s no way to spend your holidays! Here’s how to not overspend this Christmas.
#1 Set your priorities: What is the single most important thing to you this holiday season? Is it to see family you haven’t seen in a while? Is it to take time off from work and enjoy your family? Is it to travel to a new location and sightsee? Is it to see the smiles on your kids’ faces when they open their gifts?
What is the single most important thing you want to accomplish this holiday season?
#2 Create a plan around your priority: If, for example, your goal this holiday is to spend time with your family, then create a plan to make that happen. Perhaps you'll spend a weekend at an indoor water park during the holiday break. Maybe you'll take long days and visit local museums. Maybe you'll go Christmas caroling and decorate a tree. Write down the things that will help you achieve your goal.
#3 Budget: The next step, once you’ve created a plan to achieve your goal, is to budget for it. This means outlining what you have to spend on your holiday goal and how much it’s realistically going to cost. Don’t forget to budget a little bit for your other holiday priorities and expectations.
For example, maybe you’ve decided that in order to achieve your goal of a family vacation, you’re not going to get each other any gifts. You may still be obligated to get gifts for your child’s teachers or classroom secret Santa gifts. Make sure to include those items in your budget.
#4 Tracking: The next step to stay on budget, regardless of your holiday priorities and goals, is to track your expenses. For example, if you’re buying tickets for that family vacation, track how much it’s costing you. When you’re on vacation, make sure to track how much you’re spending. That way, you can be sure you’re sticking to your budget.
#5 Contingencies: A good budget always includes a little wiggle room. Call it the miscellaneous or emergency fund. When you make room for the unexpected, it’s not a stressful event when it happens.
Before you dive into the holiday season, take some time to prioritize and identify your goals. What does Christmas mean to you? Do your goals, plans and budget reflect that? If not, make adjustments. Christmas doesn’t have to be about giving gifts to everyone you know. It can be, but it can also be about family, vacations, or some well-deserved rest. You get to decide how you want to spend it and how much it costs you.