It’s easy to get wrapped up in the busy-ness of the season and end up spending far more than you intended at Christmas time. From buying extravagant gifts to decorating your home to the endless entertaining: Christmas spending quickly adds up. Which is why creating a Christmas budget makes perfect sense. Here are some key steps you can take to set a budget for Christmas that won’t break your bank.
1. Make a list
Start by making a list of all the things you do for Christmas that are not part of your normal budget but are holiday-specific. This could include things like mailing out Christmas cards, Christmas baking, gifts, travelling, entertaining or a big grocery shop for Christmas Day.
Break down your list even further listing specifics for each item you’ve written down – for example, if you’ve included mailing out Christmas cards, you’d need to list how many Christmas cards you’ll be sending out and how many stamps you’ll need.
2. Check it twice
Go through your list a second time and write down the cost of each item you’ve included. You may need to look back on last year’s figures or check online for prices. Now that you’ve added up how much you’ll need to spend, consider whether or not you can actually afford that amount using your income or any savings. If you can, excellent! If not, you need to take a realistic view and perhaps go through your list again to cut out a few items.
Take a few minutes to think about what’s important to you: The things you really can’t do without. Then, sort your list into three sections: things you can live without, things you can’t live without, things you can’t decide on. Now calculate the total cost of the things you really can’t do without. If you have any budget left over, move items from the other two lists into this list.
3. Cut it down to size
You may need to work on step 2 a few times before your list is cut down to a far more realistic figure. Perhaps it means only buying gifts for your immediate family rather than all of your extended family. Or it could mean having to say no to some of the Christmas events you’ve been invited to. Perhaps you choose to send e-cards instead of mailing out Christmas cards this year.
It’s really down to you how you prioritise what’s most important to you. In the end, only you can set the best budget for your family and lifestyle, but don’t let Christmas become a season of excess and extravagance that leaves your bank and pockets empty.
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