This is the first of two issues about financially surviving the holiday’s. Hopefully our tips allow you to continue your attack on your debt snowball while embracing the spirit of the season by giving
5 months before Christmas:
- Create a spreadsheet that lists the names of people you’re planning on buying for in one column and how much you plan to spend on each person in the next column.
- When you’ve come up with your grand total, decide how much you can put into savings for Christmas expenses each month. That will tell you how many months ahead you have to start saving in order to buy something special for everyone on your list.
1-2 months before Christmas:
- As you begin buying gifts for the people on your list, add columns to the spreadsheet that include what you actually bought and how much that specific item costs. This way, you know exactly how much you spent and on what.
- Why is that important? I find that sometimes I overspend or get a gift early that I don’t really want to give someone as Christmas comes closer. If I’ve written down the item and how much it costs, I can take an item back or change my budget plans based on each item that I’ve purchased.
- Travel expenses. If you have to fly or drive far to go home, don’t forget to include flight cost or gas cost in your Christmas list budget. This is a great time of year to save money by using some points from your flight rewards card to pay for your holiday travel expenses.
- Work and Friend Holiday Parties: A lot of offices and groups of friends like to get together and participate in Secret Santa or some other gift giving event.
- Spending Allowance during Christmas Break: Remember to budget in a reasonable spending allowance so that you can enjoy your break. Some people go home and spend most of their time at home with family and spend very little money. Some people make plans with old friends throughout their breaks. Lunches, dinners, and happy hours and add up.
I have attached an example of a Holiday Budget Template that I use to keep track of the people on my list and how much I plan to spend.
If you’re aggressively attacking your debt and you don’t want to stop your debt snowball for a few months to save up for Christmas gifts for everyone in your entire family this year, it’s totally OK to let them know that you can’t spend a lot over the holiday’s. Your friends and family should understand that you’re working on something that will significantly benefit your life in the near future (and bring them bigger and better gifts in the future) 😉 .
With that said, here are some gift ideas that are thoughtful yet inexpensive:
- If you’re crafty, anything on Pinterest will do (this year I’m making candles – last year I made ornaments)
- Lottery tickets
- Gift cards
- Magazine or TV subscriptions
- Ask your family to participate in a Secret Santa so you’re responsible for buying for fewer people
- Baked Goods
- Everyone needs socks 😉
Look out for Brittany’s “Holiday’s on a Budget” post on Thursday!