Budgeting for the holidays can be tricky for many people because they never learned to budget, live paycheck-to-paycheck, or have a hard time planning and staying organized. There are many reasons the holidays can be financially stressful. However, with the proper education and foresight, anyone can budget for the holidays so that they aren’t too stressful or overwhelming financially.
Here are a couple of tips to help you get started.
It’s never too early to start planning.
If you’ve never learned to budget, educating yourself is the first step. Wealth Rocket offers a personal finance site targeted toward people trying to navigate the world of finance. They offer a wealth of articles covering topics like budgeting, investing, and taxes to help you align your financial decisions with your life goals. They provide expert tips on all of the basics of personal finance. With the new knowledge you gain, you can start working toward long-term wealth so that planning for the holidays becomes a non-stressful event.
Plan out your expenses.
Budgeting can be tricky if you don’t know what you need to get during the holidays. However, it would help if you thought about it the opposite way. You need to decide how much you will pay and make your expenses fit within your budgeted amount. For example, suppose a business wants to include RGB Christmas lights in their holiday display. In that case, they’re going to call ahead and get prices to determine if the lights fit within their budget, given everything else they already know they need to buy. They won’t just order any RGB Christmas lights and then hope they still have enough money for everything else they need.
Write everything down.
While you may have a great memory, small details can quickly get missed or confused when they aren’t written down. Make a list of everyone you plan to buy gifts for over the holidays and assign a budget to each person’s gift. Be realistic in terms of what you can afford as a total and how that money will be divided. For example, you will spend more on your children than on a coworker. Once you have a budget for each person, write down some gift ideas so that once you start shopping, you won’t be tempted to impulse buy.
Set aside a specific amount each month for the holidays.
When you are living on a tight budget, the holidays can be challenging to manage. However, setting aside a specific amount each month all year can help make the holidays less stressful. For example, you may decide that you’ll put $20 into savings every month, which means you’ll have $240 already set aside to spend on holiday expenses. If you can afford more, you can set aside more. If you don’t think you can afford to set aside anything, you should first take an honest look at how you spend your money to see if there are any areas you can cut back. For example, if you stop at the gas station for coffee or snacks, those small expenses add up quickly, so you may have more money than you realize.
Budgeting for the holidays has to be a year-round endeavor, and you have to be disciplined to follow the budget. People often view a budget as restrictive or as a nagging reminder of what you can’t spend. However, using a budget also lets you know what you can spend. You’ll always know how much spending money you have each week, and if you want something more expensive, you’ll know exactly how much you have to save up or how long you’ll need to save to get it. Using a budget can be very freeing because it takes the stress out of financial planning. You’ll also be able to see if the long-term solution to your financial problems is spending less or earning more, because those are very different problems.