Foundations of Christmas Organizing – Part 3 of 3 – Your Christmas Savings and Spending Plan
Budgeting, for many of us, is a dirty word – but it does not have to be. Creating a spending and savings plan for Christmas is a very important part of your Christmas organizing foundation. Many times when I talk to people about being organized for Christmas, they say that one of the main stressors of the season is money.
By simply making a written plan and deciding ahead of time how much you can realistically spend, you can still have a wonderful Christmas regardless of your budget’s size.
- Christmas Budget Master Breakdown – Create a list of EVERYTHING you spend or think you will spend at Christmas. Now look at your list and group like items together such as all decorating related items, will break each one down further in the next step. Remember, often the “little things” at Christmas add up, so be sure to include them. Next to each item write down the amount you plan to spend on that area for Christmas and the overall category it belongs.
- Christmas Category Budget Breakdown Sheet – Now look at your list and create a separate category form or sheet and at the top write the category name. On this sheet break the category down even further with all the expenditures you make in this category along with the amount you plan to spend for each.
At the top of each sheet, write down your total budget for each category, then add up the total for all the sheets. This is the total amount you need for Christmas. Divide this amount out by how many paychecks you have between now and Christmas; this is how much you need to allocate each paycheck to stay out of debt for Christmas.
- Ways to Save – Now let’s look at how to save the money you need for Christmas. Two ways to save for Christmas include:
- Christmas Club/Savings Account – Open a Christmas Club, or separate savings account to deposit the amount each paycheck into for your Christmas expenditures.
- Saving Stocking – A fun way to save your money is to hang up a stocking and place money in it throughout the year. This allows the money to be accessible if you purchase items throughout the year.
- Christmas Savings Packet – Create packets using envelopes for each category. Place money in each one until it is fully funded. You can place a small amount each paycheck in all your categories or fill one up fully before funding the next category. As you spend money out of it, place the receipt (or copy) into the envelope.
- Budget Stretchers for Christmas – Think about ways to stretch your money at Christmas. Below is a list of ideas.
- Create a central theme gift for people on your list that receive gifts from multiple people in your family. Example, your husband is a woodworker, ask people to buy him woodworking supplies or gift cards to the woodwork shop. Another example I did when my daughter was small Santa brought her a play kitchen (gently used), and we asked everyone else to get her play kitchen related items. This helped us stretch our budget by not having to purchase all the accessories, and she was so happy with all the items that went with her large gift. We also repeated this when she received an American Girl doll one year.
- Have a craft exchange party in the summer with other crafty friends.
- Add one item or two items of non-perishable foods, or items you can freeze, to each shopping trip you make starting in June. Following this plan allows you to purchase items when they are on sale, saving you money.
- Have a dessert party instead of a sit-down dinner party.
- Free/Low-Cost Ideas to Cut Costs During Christmas – Take a sheet of paper and keep a list of free or low-cost ideas you can implement during Christmas. Here area few ideas to get you started:
- Drive around town to view Christmas lights as a family.
- Attend a Christmas parade
- Cut greenery from your yard or a friend’s yard instead of purchasing at a florist.
- Eat-in as much as you can throughout December.
- Decorate your house with items you already have and love, adding greenery or other Christmas touches.
- Give homemade goodies to people on your list. The cost per gift is greatly reduced from store bought gifts.
- Use stockings as gift wrap for smaller gifts.
- Join a website that pays you in cash or gift cards to participate in their program.