Welcome to Week Two: How to Create Your Holiday Budget in my holiday planning series – 9 Weeks to a More Organized and Peaceful Christmas: How to Prepare for Christmas. With Christmas less than two months away, now is the time to start thinking about your holiday budget. Have you started your budget?
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If you haven’t already set up your Holiday Binder, go back and check out last week’s post to get it set up before moving on to today’s post. You can find it here –> Week 1: Create Your Holiday Planning Binder.
If you’ve never budgeted before, Christmas is a wonderful time to start a budget. Holiday spending can quickly get out of hand without a budget to help you track your purchases.
Set Up Your Holiday Account
I know that budgeting might seem a little scary if you’ve never done it before. But overspending during the holidays is even scarier. For many of us, the holidays create a lot of money stress.
The best way to combat the money stress is to set up a holiday bank account and to start a holiday savings plan. My suggestion is to come up with your holiday budget in January and save a little each month so that when the holidays roll around, you simply spend from the holiday account.
But if you didn’t get your holiday account set up earlier this year, don’t fret. You can set it up now.
Determine your overall budget and transfer that amount of money into your holiday account. If you don’t have that much in your general account right now, set up an automatic transfer each week to your holiday account. If you’re strapped for cash this year, go with a smaller budget, make homemade gifts, or earn a little extra cash (see below for some ideas).
I know some people prefer to simply use cash. If that helps you stay within your budget, then stick with a cash budget. But if you’re not a fan of carrying around a lot of cash (like me!), you can just as easily use the debit card attached to your holiday savings account.
Print Your Holiday Budget Printable from the 2016 Holiday Planning Pack
If you haven’t printed your holiday budget planning worksheet from the 2016 Holiday Planning Pack, go ahead and do that now. The budget worksheet looks like this:
List Out Everything You Plan to Buy
Take a sheet of paper and start listing out everything you plan to buy this Christmas season.
I’m not just talking about expenses related to gifts, but also food, travel expenses, decorations, charitable donations, holiday cards, entertainment expenses, and anything else you can think of.
As you list these budget items out on paper, you’re probably also listing the people you plan to buy a present for this Christmas. Now is a good time to add those names to your Holiday Gift List planning sheet in the 2016 Holiday Planning Pack. This will give you a head start on planning your gifts (one of the topics of next week’s post!).
This week is also a good time to take a peek at your November calendar (and start adding in important dates!), and to start your November Gratitude Journal.
Create Your Holiday Budget
Now that you have a list of everything you plan on buying this season, go ahead and start filling in your Holiday Budget with the items you’ve listed out in the previous steps. For now, you will just complete the first column “estimated cost.”
We’ll talk about tracking your actual cost in a just a bit.
Find Extra Money
If you’re feeling strapped for cash this year, why not earn a little extra money? Here are some ways to earn some cash for the holidays:
- Take on a part-time seasonal job
- Have a garage sale
- Sell used books online
- Pet sit
- Be a secret shopper
- Use Inbox Dollars
- Get Paid For Taking Surveys
- Get Cash Back
- Eat out less (this one’s not technically earning money, but it sure will feel like it!)
Track Your Holiday Spending
The whole point of a budget is to stick to it. The best way to stick to your budget is to track it along the way.
I recommend saving all of your receipts and tracking your budget at least once a week. If you overspend on one category, then underspend by the same amount in another category (and vice versa). You’ll find a notes section on your Holiday Budget planning sheet to help you remember these budget modifications.
When the holidays are over, you can use this year’s budget to help you develop a budget for next year!
In summary, here are your tasks for this week (all of which can be found in the 2016 Holiday Planning Pack):
- Create Your Holiday Budget
- Start Your November Gratitude Journal
- Take a Peek at Your November Calendar
- Start Filling in Your Shopping List
What’s your biggest holiday budget challenge? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.
I’ll be back next week to talk about shopping lists and calendaring important holiday events.
Until then, Happy Budgeting!
With Love and Joy,