Budgeting Out Your Christmas

Budgeting Out Your Christmas

Have you ever felt overwhelmed with how you are going to afford a gift for all your friends and family members? Christmas shopping can seem a  bit daunting if you are on a tight budget, have a surprise extra expense, and are not exactly sure just who you are buying gifts for.


As a formerly broke college student several years ago, my friend and I used to discuss how to budget for holidays, especially as our family and friend groups expanded over the years. We still use some of the techniques we used years ago even now as older adults.


There is no reason not to be able to give a gift to the people or pets you wish to show affection for during the holidays. I am going to share some of the techniques we use to budget for the holidays.


Make a List


I know this seems to be kind of an obvious tip, but you never realize how many people you are buying gifts for until you make a list! This list should encompass all your gift shopping needs including your family, friends, pets and even Yankee swaps gifts for work and parties. If you plan on donating presents to a toy drive, you will want to add that to the list as well. This will give you a more realistic outlook and ability to organize as you shop.


How Much Can You Afford to Spend?


The next thing to do is determine how much can you realistically spend on Christmas presents. This, of course, is determined on how much extra cash you have left over each month after regular bills. If you can cut some extra expenses, such as eating out or going to the movies, this can give you extra money for Christmas shopping. I will usually denote a dollar amount for each person’s gift on my list and add it all together for an expected total. If you have 10 people to shop for and you are looking to spend around $25 per a person, you need to make sure you have at least $250 stocked away for Christmas shopping.


Start Early and Spread Your Shopping Trips Over Time


This is personally one of my favorite ways to Christmas shop. I know some people wait until the last minute and run out a few days before Christmas to frantically find the perfect gift for everyone on their list. I do not recommend this at all!

If you know in September you see something your mom will love and it is on sale, I suggest buying it right then and saving it until Christmas. Why? You can spread out the cost of your holiday shopping over the next couple of months to make the monthly damage less frightening and more doable!


Being on the outlook for gifts for people at the start of fall can also help to relieve the stress of the holidays during December. While people are out shopping or frantically looking online for delivery before Christmas, you can enjoy wrapping all the presents you picked up in the earlier fall months with no hassle!


Photo Credit: Kayla Brasel

Pay With Cash or Your Debit Card


Credit cards, in my opinion, are a big no-no for Christmas shopping! It is effortless to slide the credit card and buy more expensive gifts and go outside your budget without thinking about it! Too many times, I have known people scrambling to pay off their credit card debt accumulated from Christmas shopping in January. The best thing is to just pay directly with your debit card or cash so you can see how much money you have in your account or pocket!


Shop the Sales and DIY Gifts


I love shopping for stuff on sale, whether it’s online or in a store. Buying gifts on sale can help you save money on your Christmas shopping budget or allow you to buy a couple of extra gifts for a person if you were able to get his or her “big gift” cheaper than you anticipated.


And who doesn’t like a gift made by hand? It can be cheaper to make gifts, and your friends and family will appreciate it even more because you put the time and effort into creating it yourself! And hey, if you aren’t crafty yourself, Etsy has a lot of sellers with fair prices who will create personalized gifts by hand for their customers. I have personally used Etsy several times to find the right gifts for my friends!


I hope these tips can help some of you make your Christmas shopping and Holidays more joyful and stress-free!




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