What a beautiful fall we’ve been blessed with! The colors are brilliant as they usher in the cooler temperatures. As I look at the calendar, there are 4 weeks till Thanksgiving and 10 weeks till Christmas. How’s your budget looking for those additional expenses? I’ve had several classes this fall where we’ve been talking about getting a handle on our money flow, really taking a look at the money in and out of our accounts and how intentional we are with our spending. The holidays tend to be a time when we give ourselves permission to spend in ways we might not otherwise do so. Let’s look at some ways to save money and still enjoy the special events that are around the corner.
*The guideline for holiday spending is about 1.5 percent of your total income. So if you make $25,000 then the suggested budget would be about $375.
*Divide out the expenses by the number of paychecks that you have before your celebration. Don’t wait till the week before and try and squeeze everything into one pay period. Many of you may have already have items purchased as they have been on sale.
*Make a complete list of additional expenses that might be incurred. Include everything from postage stamps or cost of mailing packages to wrapping paper, extra travel, trees and other decorations, and additional food. Then decide how much to save between now and your celebration to make it easier on the budget. Or, begin purchasing items each week to save on time and money
*Utilize lay-a-ways for larger items or for the special items on the list. This can divide the cost out over several weeks and make it easier on the budget. When shopping, use a list for each store and stick to the list for each week.
*If you are planning to travel, keep an eye out for flights or hotel specials to help stretch the dollars. Again, begin today to put away a specific amount to pay for the trip as an additional expense on budget.
*Avoid using credit to purchase items, unless they can be paid off in a short time. Interest rates add significant amounts to items if there is an ongoing balance. An $18.00 item placed on a credit card with a running balance for 6 months could end up costing between $40 and $50 dollars (depending on the balance and the interest rates).
*Really talk with the children about wishes and help them prioritize. I remember there was something on every page of the catalogs or sale flyers that was on the list. Help to create a great holiday season with other traditions so that the memories are not all based on just the gifts, but the activities and memories too.
* Consider what gift items might be made this year? If your closets are filled with family heirlooms or special items, might a piece of family history along with the story be a fitting gift? (gifting is a way of sharing special stories with family items in Grandma’s Yellow Pie Plate materials). Maybe you have time to bake, or talents to share with special gifts like sewing, quilting, card making, or knitting. Maybe you could give the gift of time by giving coupons for a free movie night, a free dinner in January, a house or car cleaning.
However you choose to celebrate your holidays, don’t let overspending and debit cloud your beginning of a new year.