From the months of October to December, it seems our spending gets a little cray. We always budget out our spending for Christmas gifts, but there’s a lot more to holiday spending than just the gifts. There’s the decorations, the food, the parties, hosting family, traveling, sending out cards, and so on. In the end, it really adds up. Just thinking about it, makes me feel kind of stressed (but also so very excited!!).
As cliche as it sounds, giving gifts really is the fun part (especially when they’re from the dollar store). Since we’ve gotten out of debt, we’re more generous now with our budgeting this time of year. But before the mad rush of holiday shopping begins, here are a few tips Johnny and I plan to follow the next three months to keep from overspending.
Set Out an Itemized Budget for Everything
Yup. Everything, not just the gifts. At the beginning of the year, we solidified our Christmas budget for each other and Sally, so now we just need to make sure we stick to our guns. And our itemized budgeting list will probably look a bit like this:
- Johnny’s Parents
- Joanna’s Parents
- Johnny’s Secret Santas
- Joanna’s Secret Santas
- Christmas cards
- Food budget for December (since we’ll probably plan on spending more that month… because baking)
- Decorations (Johnny will resist this category, but I need a wreath for the door, and Sally doesn’t have a stocking!)
- Gifts for friends
If we were traveling, we’d probably add travel costs to that list. But we’re planning to travel for Thanksgiving (using airline points) and be home for Christmas this year.
Don’t Underestimate the Power of Homemade
Some of my favorite gifts are those that have been handmade just for me. I like to crochet, so if I have the time, I would like to make a homemade crocheted item for my Mom and mother-in-law, and possibly even my Dad and father-in-law — although, men are trickier to crochet something *manly,* like this. I also plan on giving yummy treats to friends and neighbors instead of store-bought gifts. There’s not a gift I enjoy more than a baked treat, and I already have a couple of different options in mind.
Start Shopping Early
Most years, I start my Christmas shopping in October. The same cannot be said for Johnny. Somehow he still manages to find deals because he’s a lucky son of a gun. When I feel rushed, I’m more likely to overspend, and by giving myself the time I need, I feel more in control of my spending. On top of that, by December, it’s sometimes hard to find deals, and items begin to be sold out or picked over. I remember wanting to get Johnny the new GoPro last Christmas (which I ended up changing my mind about), and it was sold out everywhere I looked!
Remember, Your Kids Don’t Need Much
Adults don’t either, really. But kids… seriously. We could give Sally a pack of plastic straws for Christmas, and she would be in heaven. We’re planning on getting her a bunch of smaller things this year (more paper to rip open!) and a few necessities (such as snow pants… hi, Utah!). I know this can be harder with older kids because they start handwriting their lists to Santa and really wanting a certain thing. But for younger children, you really don’t need to break the bank. Sometimes I have a hard time remembering that the amount of money I spend on Sal doesn’t translate to how much we love her.
By remembering all of this now, hopefully Johnny and I can keep our holiday spending under wraps! Oh, puns. And even though I recommend starting Christmas shopping early, I don’t feel the same about Christmas music. Nosiree.