Summer: perfect time to budget for Christmas
Making a list, checking it twice … Oh wait, it’s not the holiday season quite yet? You may still be enjoying time at the pool, but if you haven’t started yet, now is the best time to start budgeting for Christmas. When you make a Christmas budget ahead of time, you can stop the holiday stress before it even begins.
Why do a Christmas budget (and why now)?
All the holiday magic you want to create needs to start with having a Christmas budget. Yes, it’s even more important than presents and trees with all the trimmings.
The hustle and bustle of holidays will be stressful enough already. We tend to feel we have to keep up with the Joneses, and it may feel like we need to go over and above this Christmas to make up for last year. But caving to that pressure, and spending without a plan, can ruin the joy of the season and bury you in credit card debt for months.
Although it feels so satisfying to buy gifts for everyone, that kind of holiday shopping will end in a retail therapy hangover full of guilt, shame, and anxiety. I don’t want that for you any time of year, much less at Christmas. I want you to feel secure in your finances, especially during the holidays, so that stress around money doesn’t ruin the most wonderful time of the year.
How to do a Christmas budget
I know some of you hear the B-word (budget) and want to run for the hills. But a budget is nothing more than a plan – on paper, ahead of time – that gives you permission to spend.
Here’s how to approach it:
First, decide how much you can spend. How much can you afford to save between now and Christmas? Break it up by paycheque and plan to put that amount aside every payday so it’s safe from Friday night pizza runs.
Make a list – just like Santa – of the people you want to buy presents for. You should also include line items for food and decor if you tend to go all “Better Homes and Gardens” on your house during the holidays. Don’t forget parties, and any December travel you want to do.
Include a dollar amount next to each name and category. Yes, it feels weird to put $60 next to Grandma, but it’s what you have to do to win.
Subtract those numbers from the total you’re planning to save, and if you ended up with zero, you have perfected the Christmas budget.
That’s your budget. The key is to stick to it. This will help you avoid emotional and last-minute spending.
Do a Christmas budget, and give yourself a gift
I can tell you from experience it’s almost impossible to enjoy purchases when they make you blow your budget. So, if this sounds like last Christmas or the Christmas before that, give yourself a gift by doing a Christmas budget. It might be challenging, but I guarantee you’ll feel way less stress this year.
I hope this plan helps you tackle your Christmas budget, so you can enjoy the holidays stress-free!
• Rachel Cruze is a two-time #1 national bestselling author, financial expert and host of The Rachel Cruze Show. She has appeared on Good Morning America, TODAY Show and Live! With Kelly & Ryan, among others. Since 2010, Rachel has served at Ramsey Solutions, where she teaches people to avoid debt, save money, budget and how to win with money at any stage in life. Follow Rachel on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube or online at rachelcruze.com.