I know it is completely illogical, but Christmas kind of snuck up on me this year. It is the same time every year, so I’m still trying to figure out how I failed so miserably this year.
I’m planning to use the new baby excuse with anyone that asks, but since she is 7 months old, that excuse really doesn’t fly anymore.
Fortunately, I had included Christmas as one of my budget items throughout the year, so I have money set-aside for the holidays. However, I really haven’t managed my Christmas spending this year.
Ideally I like to start shopping in September or October. This gives me plenty of time to write out my lists, find good deals and get everything done prior to December.
I’m not sure when I’ve ever actually been that on the ball, but I can keep dreaming each year that I’ll do a little bit better.
So although I’m not the ideal Christmas model, one thing I always do is stay on budget. I’m good at that aspect of Christmas.
Unfortunately it takes more then just budgeting to stay on track with holiday spending. I’m still a long way from perfection on Christmas spending, but have found that when I focus on these 5 methods of controlling my spending I’m significantly more successful.
1. Budget for Christmas throughout the year
This suggestion may be a bit late for many of you if you are reading this December – but hey there is always next year.
I personally set aside a small amount of money each month for holiday spending. In August or September I increase my monthly contribution to my holiday budget category.
I typically base my budget on my previous years spending. It is very important to know how much you spend each year to adequately budget for the future.
Depending on your financial situation it is also important to factor in travel and meals for the holiday season. We hosted Thanksgiving this year and even though everyone contributes we still spent a lot of money on groceries.
2. Write a Christmas Gift List
You will overspend if you don’t have a list. I’m sure there are specific studies that prove this fact, but based on my observation skills I know this is true.
Before you buy your first gift start a holiday gift list.
I typically start with close family and friends and then move down the list until I’m out of money. I put my list together and then set a budget for each person on my list.
I’m kind of boring and often give gift certificates, so this is relatively easy for the gift certificate recipients.
If you run out of money before people on your list then it is time to either redo your list or see the points below.
3. Be creative
Some of the most meaningful gifts I’ve received and given have been the least expensive gifts. The gifts from the heart, always mean the most. I’m not a pinterest person, but if I were, that would be the place to start.
There are thousands of creative, easy gift ideas online. Here is a link to a Pinterest board that I created with fun, inexpensive gift ideas.
4. Money doesn’t matter
It is really easy to get caught up in the Spend, Spend, Spend mentality of Christmas. And yes, spending is important, but often we are giving gifts that aren’t needed, really even wanted or going to be used.
Be selective when you do your gift list. Not everyone needs a gift, they will survive.
It is okay to write co-workers a nice note and skip the expensive gift. I can guarantee they will keep the note a lot longer then the candles or lotion.
Last year one of my co-workers gave each of us a nice note with some really cute Christmas socks. I still have the note and the socks. It was such a simple sweet gift that really meant a lot to me.
5. Look for memories rather then physical gifts
Besides a few random gifts over the years, I can’t tell you what I got for Christmas last year. It wasn’t that I didn’t appreciate the gifts, they just didn’t stick out in my mind.
However, I can tell you what we did as a family. Family time spent together is much more meaningful then any gift under the tree.
It is okay to get all your nieces and nephews together for a movie and popcorn night. I’ve got a lot of extended family and if I did even $10 gifts for each of them I’d be spending over $200. Most $10 gifts are kind of cheesy anyway, so each year Aaron and I have gotten in the habit of inviting all of the local family over for dinner. It has become a great tradition and means a lot to us.
I doubt the kids appreciate not getting specific gifts, but for me the time spent with family is more important then gifts any day.
I also love doing Christmas craft parties, candy apples parties, gingerbread houses . . . . . the list goes on and on.
Why Controlling your Holiday Christmas Spending Matters
I know so many people who dread this time of year. They get so caught up in the hunt for the perfect gift that they stress themselves out and then completely over-spend.
Christmas is about the memories and fun times we have as family and friends. Christmas is about sharing special moments and reconnecting with everyone we love.
There is nothing worse then opening up your credit card statement in January and having a bit of sticker shock. I know people that don’t pay off their Christmas spending until June or July and then they start the whole process again. It isn’t worth it!
I know that when I manage my budget for Christmas and manage my spending properly the Christmas season doesn’t leave me stressed and frassled and I have time to focus on the important things that really matter: Family & Friends!
Receive Our Newsletter
Subscribe To Get Bi-Monthly Content On Personal Finance, Parenting and Successful Living