Building a Budget for the Holidays

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We know it seems early, but the holidays are really just around the corner! And while the season is filled with wonder and excitement, it can also be packed with budget busting purchases. Gifts, decorations, costumes, meals, more gifts…it can be overwhelming to keep up with, let alone budget for. Here are our ideas of how to plan a budget for the holidays:

Make Lists

Create a list of all the events coming up in the next few months. Birthdays, holidays, class events, holiday parties, school plays, pumpkin patches – anything you can think of. Then prioritize the list in order of cost, importance, and calendar date. Think through what you’ll need to bring to each event whether it’s a gift, a side dish, the entire meal , a new outfit or even new clothes for the entire family.

In addition, make a list of all the people you’ll need gifts for including all the extras you can think of like teachers, crossing guards, bosses, mailmen, etc. Again, rank them in order of importance i.e. your kids holiday gifts first, down to say the school crossing guard. Think through what kind of gift you would want for each person and write it next to their name.

Apply Costs

After you’ve determined who and what you need to buy for, begin to apply dollar values. Choose a number that is within your budget and divide it among the entire list.  Some people’s gifts and some events will cost more, others will cost less. But getting the list together now, putting values on each item, and knowing the total cost will allow you to plan for those expenses ahead of time – and keep you in budget.

Start Now

Once you know what you need to prepare for, start shopping now! Search for coupons online – often manufacturer and store coupons can be combined. Use sites like Retail Me Not for extra discounts online and in stores. Sign up for (free) store rewards. Search online for specific gifts and good deals. Do research on where the best price for each item is, not all retail stores or online stores have the same prices. Look for free shipping and coupon codes on the sites you are shopping on, they’re often at the top of the first page.

And this process isn’t just for toys and other gifts, it can be applied to grocery shopping too. Many of the holiday staples are non-perishable or can be frozen so stock up when you see them on sale.

Make Instead of Buy

Don’t underestimate a homemade gift! These are especially great for teachers, neighbors and other people on your list. Small baked goods like cookies or spiced breads are easy to make and inexpensive too. Wrap them up in plastic and tie with ribbon for a cheery touch.

Getting your kids involved too is a great way to teach giving and help make some memorable and special presents. Festive artwork, home decorated wrapping paper, ornaments, jewelry or baked goods are even sweeter when little hands have helped create them!