Do you want to have a spectacular Christmas?
Why, yes, please.
Why is it that Christmas seems to catch us off-guard again and again? Christmas is not a surprise. Every year it shows up at on the same day, December 25th.
Yet, we tend to forget about Christmas until the last minute and then it is a big scramble to come up with a sizable chunk of money all at once. There are also end of the year large expenses to juggle as well which leads to chaos, overspending, and stress.
It can be so easy to reach for the credit card because you want a good Christmas for your family. Paying with plastic is so easy and convenient... at the time, but then come January and February, you now have to pay for all these bills you have racked up.
This cycle of spending more than you can afford on Christmas and using a credit card only sabotages your goals for managing your money in the new year.
Even if you enjoy giving, frustration, stress, guilt, and even shame will come visit in January when you realize you should have spent less and now have to cut back on normal expenses to make ends meet.
In order to have a spectacular Christmas and a great start to the new year, we need a game plan on how to best spend our money over the holidays so we don't end up regretting our choices.
The last couple of years, I spent more than I was intending on Christmas. Part of it is because I do enjoy giving and partially because I fell into the trap of thinking, I am debt free and have the money, so why not.
But what am I really accomplishing? Adding more stress to my life because I now feel like I have an obligation to buy presents for everyone, when I really dislike Christmas shopping in the first place. There is more stress when I realize how much I overspent and now I have to juggle my accounts to cover all the large expenses which always come in January.
My savings progress is stilted and stifled as I have to spend a couple months rebounding from the Christmas. I begin to dread the holidays because of the high price tag and the stress associated with them.
Can you relate?
In order to have a spectacular Christmas, I need to scale back my spending habits to a more affordable level this year.
These tips will help you and me both from overspending this holiday season. You will have increased joy with giving and less stress throughout the next couple of months.
Save for the holidays
There are three months left before all the holidays and it is a perfect time to start saving money, so you can pay cash. Figure out how much you will need for Christmas spending by either looking at how much you spent last year or deciding a number for how much you want to spend this year.
Divide this amount by three and put the new total into your budget for the next three months. You can start shopping now with some of the money or put the money into savings until you are ready to shop.
(If you are really on top of it, put aside a small amount money each month starting in January for Christmas.)
Commit to using cash
Use cash if at all possible for your holiday shopping. There are various apps you can use to track how much you spend on each person. In the past I have used My Christmas Budget from Dave Ramsey which I really like and plan on using again this year so I don't have to rely on my memory.
Paying with cash will guarantee you will spend less than if you pay with your credit card and you won't have to pay it back!
Do you shop online? I have recently discovered online shopping and love it! I don't have to deal with the crowds, the parking, and the noise of going to stores. When I shop online, I use a debt card instead of a credit card.
You need to be especially diligent about jotting down what you have spent right away, so your purchase doesn't get lost within all the other purchases in your bank account.
Plan out your spending
Take some time now before the hustle and bustle of the holidays to plan out some details. Your spending will stay under control the more you have a plan for who you will spend on and what you will buy.
Write out a list of everyone you want to give a gift to and how much you want to spend per person. Gift wrappings, holiday parties, and Christmas cards all need to be included on your list, otherwise they will cause you to overspend drastically if you aren't careful.
Evaluate your list
Do you really need to send a card or give a gift to everyone on your list? Try paring your list down to the most important people in your life.
If you still want to give someone a gift, but they are not part of your inner circle, think about making a food item, cookies or candy, or a small handmade gift. There are so many gifts you can easily mass produce cheaply, which allows you to give without spending too much per gift.
I will be evaluating my list this year with pruning shears. I love to be generous, but I want to have a more reasonable approach and not give out of self-induced obligation. When you feel obligated to give someone a gift, especially at a high cost to your wallet, you lose the joy of giving and can become resentful.
Shop in advance
Start shopping now and do a little at a time. You will be able to absorb the cost a little more if you space out your shopping and you may also find better deals. You will be less tempted to spend as much money since you aren't braving the crowds with all the other other frenzied shoppers.
Give of yourself
Instead of buying a gift for someone, why not give of yourself? You can make a coupon book of ways to help out a busy person or dates to spend time with someone.
Give a certificate to come over for dinner after the holidays are over. Go all crazy, like we did one year, and have the gift certificate be for 'Big Tony's Restaurant', aka your house. You might confuse people at first, but you both will enjoy the time spent together more than a gift.
Help someone else
When you are able to follow a plan for your holiday spending, there is often room to be a blessing to someone else who has a great need. You haven't maxed out your spending, becoming stressed in the process, and still have the ability to be generous.
You can have a spectacular Christmas when you stay within a plan for your spending, based on what you can actually afford, and when you focus on giving to others a meaningful gift from the heart.
Hi! I’m Charissa. I’m on a mission to help hardworking women overcome money struggles and gain financial peace with a Biblical perspective so they can have the freedom to impact their families and communities. Ready to make some changes that will impact your finances in 2020? Click here to get a free worksheet to help you make it happen!