It the Most Wonderful Time of The Year!
Somehow, it also becomes the most expensive time of the year.
We all want to make every Christmas special and fill this time of the year with memories that will last a lifetime.
Though, it can easily get overwhelming on the budget and create debt that will last for months past Christmas season.
Each year you say you will budget better and cut those Christmas costs, but you don’t make a plan and when Christmas comes, out comes the credit card.
This will NOT be you this year! You are going to make a plan, and I am going to share some easy ways to budget for Christmas so you can make those memories without over-stretching your wallet.
Save Up Ahead of Time!
This is the EASIEST way to have money to spend for Christmas time, because this money you save is specifically for Christmas! You can use all of it and it is no big deal!
If you end up with any left over you can put it away and start saving for next year! (Not that this will happen often Haha!)
So what are the best ways to save for your Christmas funds?
Did you know that many banks offer a Christmas account that you can put money into throughout the year, but cannot withdraw from til close to Christmas?
Did you know these accounts also usually have some freaking awesome interest rates too? You can also make it automated, so set and forget. Then come Christmas time your Christmas budget is all ready for you!
A Christmas account is the easiest way to save up for Christmas time with no room for temptation to spend the money on something else. Plus earn a bit of good interest along the way.
Have a look at your banks website or give them a ring and see if they have a Christmas account options. Read into the fine details about when you can access your Christmas funds to make sure it will suit you.
Envelope Method with Tracker
Prefer to keep the cash on hand so you can make those Christmas purchases early when there are sales? Then use the envelope method to make yourself put aside a little bit of money each payday so that you have money saved up and ready for your Christmas festivities.
Right now, on Sept. 1st you have 12 weeks until the first week of December. So if you want to have $1000 to spend on Christmas, you need to start putting away $85 a week.
How to Make Envelope Tracker:
Time needed: 10 min
- Get A Proper Sized Envelope
Make sure the envelope you select will fit cash flat. You don’t want to be folding bills and having it get too bulky.
- Draw/Print Christmas Item
A Christmas Tree is a good one. Just get a sharpie and make the outline of a Christmas tree (or string of Christmas lights, santa hat, snowman). If you are not much of an artist print one out, cut it out, and paste it on your envelope.
- Make Progress Lines
Get a Ruler and make a line for every centimeter inside your Christmas item outline you drew.
- Label Your Lines
Depending on how much you want to save will determine how you divide up your amounts per line. Could be $10, $20, $50 increments. You make it suit your budget.
- Add Your First $10
That’s right, begin TODAY. Put in $10 to start and start working towards your goal each week
- Keep It Safe
If you want to keep the Christmas fund at home it would be wise not to tell kiddos (who might tell friends). Store this somewhere safe, but somewhere you will remember and will have easy access to for adding money each week or payday.
Next year get a head start right away in January and you can make smaller payments towards your Christmas budget goals. Just remember to stick to it, and you will have no worries about having enough to have the Christmas you dream of each year.
Christmas Budget Time!
Make a budget, and STICK TO IT. This is the the most crucial step for cutting your costs.
Have an overall Christmas budget in mind, and then make categories. Go through and write how much you aim to spend in each category.
If you absolutely HAVE to go over in one category, then take from a different category. Maybe don’t buy any extra Christmas lights this year and use the ones with a few burnt out bulbs for one more year.
Just remember it is the memories that matter, not the how much you spend.
Make it a Family Focused Christmas,
Not a Gift Focused Christmas.
Use Your Rewards Points
Use any apps that give your rewards points?
Specifically save your points for Christmas purchases!
Do you use Swagbucks to earn reward points? Simply by shopping online with their app, taking surveys, or doing web searches for them you can earn Swagbucks to use to buy gift cards.
If you use Swagbucks why not save up your points for buying Christmas gifts this year? You can either gift a gift card or redeem the gift card and go buy a specific Christmas gift with it. Or even buy Christmas dinner with your Swagbucks you’ve saved up.
Credit Card Reward Points
Does your family use a credit card and save up reward points? Again, you can specifically use these points for Christmas purchases and cut your costs for actual Christmas spending.
I am not a huge fan of credit cards myself, but I realize many folk use them specifically for their rewards offers. So, here is an idea of how to use those rewards that you earn.
Instead of using your Credit Card to earn reward points you can use an app like Drop App to earn points while you do regular shopping with your debit card.
Within a month most folks earn enough points for a gift card. Bonus, the points never expire! So earn while you do your normal spending and cut your Christmas costs later down the track!
If you want more information there is a good review of the Drop App by the Budgeting Couple who explain why it’s not a scam and How it Works.
Price Match in November
Start sussing out how much items “actually cost” in different stores. Is online shopping actually cheaper? Or will a box store have a better deal on?
When you are not in a rush, you can take your time to make sure you are getting the best deal out there. Informing yourself of where the best prices are can save you some significant cash.
Sales the Months Before
Regular Sales are just as good, if not better than Christmas Sales. Buy those gifts early and put them on layby or hide them at a family or friends house.
Non-perishable food items can be bought in November. Your soft-drink, and …… can be purchased and stored early. Spreading these costs out help you manage the spending and if there are sales on grab those items while they are on sale.
This also can keep you out of the shops when the December craze of Christmas shoppers overwhelms the stores. You can already be stocked and not need to deal with carefully squeezing through the isles of Christmas shoppers.
Avoid Buying Things On Sale Because They’re “On Sale”
Okay, So I know I just said to buy things that are on sale, and you should.
Though, they should be items you already intentionally were going to buy. Do not buy things on sale, just because they are “on sale”. Do not buy “just in case” things.
These little purchases eat up your budget, and do not serve a purpose.
Be Mindful, and Buy things with Intention and Purpose.
Often “On Sale”, doesn’t even save you. They marked the prices up just to mark them down as “On Sale”. Common marketing ploy.
So do as mentioned earlier and do your homework. Price check items and make sure you are getting a deal on items you actually NEED.
Start Kris Kringle This Year
Are most of the people in your family adults now? How about starting Kris Kringle/Secret Santa tradition this year for the adults and cut down on the number of gifts everyone needs to buy.
Also, this allows everyone to write down some ideas of things they’ve been wanting or needing, so the gift giver has a better idea of what to aim for. Everyone will most likely appreciate having less stress coming up with what to get and saving a bit of money by only needing to buy one main gift.
What is Kris Kringle/Secret Santa?
Never heard of Kris Kringle/Secret Santa? Here is how it works:
- Make a Price Limit for the Gifts ($20 , $50, as a family you decide)
- Ask Who All is Coming to Christmas and Ask if They Want to Participate
- Select One Person to Coordinate It
- Have Everyone Tell Coordinator 3 Things on Their Wish List
- Coordinator Picks Names – Use sticky notes and a hat or free online Secret Santa generator. Whatever suits you!
- Coordinator Tells Everyone Who their Kris Kringle Gift Receiver is and Their 3 ideas Wish List
Pretty easy eh? Pick a budget, make wish lists, draw names, DONE!
Great way to cut down on the costs of gifts and help everyone get things that people ACTUALLY want, instead of guessing…..which can go awry when someone gets 3 baskets of mixed soaps/lotions.
Let me be the first to say, leave soaps/lotions/and perfumes to the women who will be wearing them…cause otherwise they sit in the back of the cupboard for years. (Unless you actually know what scent she likes).
Christmas Meal Plan
It is SO easy to overspend on Christmas food. An easy way you can rectify this is to meal plan. Plan out what you will eat for your main meal, snacks for before, and beverages.
First you need to have a clear idea how many will be joining you for Christmas. Then you need to decide exactly what you want to have for Christmas dinner. Can some of your guests to bring some of the side dishes or sauces?
This is a easy way to cut costs and let guests feel like they are contributing. Maybe they can bring the nibbles for before your main meal. One less thing for you to make and serve, any you won’t have hangry family and friends nipping at your kitchen while waiting for main course.
Nibbles & Drinks
Often the nibbles is where costs can get out of control. You plan for the main meal and splurge extra money on a “variety” of snacks and beverages. Avoid this by keeping it simple, 3 snacks options and 2 beverage options.
You are not running a buffet restaurant, you are making food for one occasion. Don’t think you need to have a huge variety and please everyone, having just a few options should be just enough to keep everyone happy and not require you to overstretch your wallet.
Write Christmas Menu Down
Now that you have had a think about it, you need to actually write it down. Take some time to play around with you menu, and then write it down officially for yourself.
Stick to that menu once you have finalized it. Make a shopping list from it and cross things off once you buy them. This will prevent you from accidentally buying things twice.
Avoid buying anything extra. If you come across a neat recipe after making your menu save it to try for next year. Everyone loves having a bit of something different each year with the traditional options. Change up one of your main sides each year, so save any ideas that come up after you have planned your menu for future Christmas’s.
How much better can you get for cutting costs than Free? Here are some Christmas freebies you can claim to help you cut those costs for Christmas this year.
Save money on buying gift tags and print these adorable free Christmas gift tags to use for your gifts to family & friends.
If you are looking for something a bit more elegant Better Homes & Gardens has these free Christmas gift tags for you to print.
Coloring Pages for Kids
Need an activity for this kids to do for a bit? How about some coloring? Crayola has free Christmas coloring pages you can print and enjoy bringing to life during your Christmas family time.
These days it is easy to enjoy Christmas Music for free with some of the popular apps out there such as Pandora, Spotify, or just Youtube. Search for a Christmas playlist and find one that suits your family’s tastes in Christmas music.
Get a Free Letter From Santa
Want to the kiddos to receive a letter from Santa? You can do that for free, all you need to do it plan ahead. Have them write to Santa at the end of November or the first weekend of December and get your letter sent off early. There are a few ways to do this, this article explains step-by-step who to address the letter to to receive your free response from Santa.
If you live in Australia you can mail it to the AU Post, they explain what to do on their website.