Guyssssss, guess what? We only have 153 days left until the most wonderful day of the year! Ahhhhhhhh, I really just love Christmas. I know everyone says that but I really mean it. I’m talking still wearing Christmas PJs and watching Christmas movies year round, while plotting on buying a 5th Christmas tree this year… kind of Christmas crazy. As much as I love Christmas, there is no holiday or special occasion worth going into debt.
Here are 3 tips to help you start your Christmas budget early, so that you can have a debt free Christmas:
One of the biggest spending cost of during the Christmas holiday is decor because all of the pretty things come with a pretty hefty price tag. Buy your trees during the off season, you can typically find them for as much as 50% off. We got the 12′ King Tree from King of Christmas last year and it is currently available for $500 off. As much as I love a real tree, artificial tress can be more cost effective because they have a longer shelf life as long as you store them properly. We’ve also purchased artificial trees from Lowes, ZGallerie and Decorators Warehouse (local to DFW area) as well that we still use in our home.
As for ornaments I typically add to whatever I had the previous year. The asorment of blush and teal on the tree above is 3 years in the making. So pick a color scheme that you love and build on it over time. If you love Christmas PJs you could start eyeing those as well as a few online shops carry them year round. One word of advise is to not wait until December to get them. Order them by Thanksgiving at the very least or finding the sizes you need for everyone will feel more like an extreme sport. Last year we had two sets of family Christmas Pajamas that came from Target and Children’s Place. See my guide to a Matchy Christmas post here.
To start your Christmas budget early, take the time to total your spending from Christmas 2018 by using Mint or your budget software of choice. If you’re a creature of habit then this will be a good starting point. You could take this a step further and make a list of every person you have to shop for and assign that person a spending limit. Let use my family for example $200 per kid and big James and $200 on decor (because those cost too). That give me a $1000 budget. If you shop for siblings, parents, nieces/nephews you need to make sure they are on the list too. Once you add (or remove) names to your list decide if those names are worth increasing your budget, then calculate your weekly savings amount needed to avoid draining your bank account in December.
$1000/153 days = 6.5 a day or $65 a week that needs to be saved.
Set up a weekly, biweekly or semi-monthly transfer to savings depending on how you pay schedule runs. This way the money is set aside and won’t be used for everyday expenses. I personally prefer savings accounts that I don’t have access to at my local bank or ATM because if I can get it, I will find a way to spend it.
It’s also a good idea to start buying some toys though out the year to avoid sticker mark up during the holidays. If you buy something in advance just make sure to use deduct it from your Christmas funds.
Bonus idea: Each year it get harder and harder to find toys to buy our kids because it feels like they have everything. They literally have room full of toys and they might play with three of them regularly. While it’s a great feeling to see them so happy on Christmas morning, I think that memories outside of Christmas are equally as important. We’ve started gifting the kids a vacation in addition to their toys for Christmas. If I had it my way they would only get one “hot toy” and the trip as their gift but big James won’t let me be great.
However, if you’re wanting to travel more with your children but struggle the idea of affordable travel then I challenge you to thing about allocating your Christmas funds in a different way. Taking a family trip is just as much a gift for you as it is for them, so try to take one trip a year, even if it’s domestic. There is so much fun to be had and the memories are priceless.
I know we’re still in the thick of summer but planning ahead helps stick to financial goals and prevents buyers remorse. With that said, have you budgeted for Christmas in previous years? If not, are you planning to start your Christmas budget early this year? Let me know in the comments or over on IG @HerLifeSparkles.
Merry Christmas Ya Filthy Animal!