Originally posted 7-11-11.
Planning. That one simple word can make a huge difference in your January credit card bill.
I know...it's July for goodness sakes. We have 166 days until Christmas. What's the rush? I'm concerned about where I put the sunscreen and keeping cool, not about What I'm going to get Who for Christmas!
Fair enough. But hear me out on this one. It is so easy to get caught up in the moment during the holiday season and over-spend. The importance of having a budget is critical. And even though Congress seems to have a difficult time passing a Budget, your holiday one doesn't have to be such a huge ordeal.
"The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender" Proverbs 22:7 (NIV).
So, I've put together a list of things that could help you this Christmas Season. If you have ideas, please comment below and share!
- Make a list of all the people you would like to give gifts to. Try to make the list as complete as possible.
► Immediate and extended family
► Aunts, uncles and cousins
► Friends and co-workers
► Any others
- By each person's name on your list, determine how much you are going to spend.
- If you already know the type of gift you are going to give someone, write that down next to his/her name. This could be a gift you are purchasing or one that you are making.
- Add up your budget. Divide your total by 5. Now you have how much you need to save each month until Christmas. If it is more than you can afford, either cut back on how much you can spend or start crossing names off the list.
- If you really like doing your shopping during the holiday season and not before, open a bank account at another bank to deposit your Christmas budget money. If that money is at a different bank, it will be less tempting/not as convenient to pilfer in case your family budget runs low. So, make the deposit and forget the money is there.
- Make your own gifts. I realize that you can't make everything, but some of the token gifts you give could hold a lot more meaning to the recipient if it is something you personally made. Starting now could give you the time you need to make that happen. (Uh, but if you are giving baked goods, it would be a good idea to wait a little closer to Christmas... Just a suggestion.)
- Shop sales. With our sluggish economy, retailers have more sales. If you know now what you would like to purchase, this gives you time to shop for the best deal.
- Open a Swagbucks account. It doesn't cost anything and you get free "bucks" just for searching the internet, completing surveys, etc. You can redeem your Swagbucks for all types of things. I've been turning in my Swagbucks for Amazon.com gift cards and saving my gift cards for Christmas gifts. If you sign up for a Swag Account, click on the Swagbucks icon in Our Sponsors on the column to the right of this post or any of the Swagbucks you see on this page. Thank you in advance for the Swagbucks you just gave me for my referral!
- Share with your family your goal for a debt-free Christmas. Many times, gift-giving for adult siblings and other relatives is just as stressful for them as it is for you. Make a suggestion to draw names in advance with a set dollar limit or play a game:
- When your family comes together to celebrate Christmas everyone brings one present to a predetermined maximum value ($10 or $15).
- They are all placed under the tree.
- Everyone is given a random number up to the number of people who are present.
- The person with number one gets to take any present they want and opens it.
- The person with number two gets to either take a present or, if they like the present number one opened, they can take that one.
- If they take number one’s present, number one must take a present from the gift pile and open it.
- And so on it goes. The fun comes as there are more presents opened and gifts are taken from others.
(By the way, it works best if you make the rule that a gift can only change hands twice.)