Have you started your Christmas shopping yet? You’re not alone. Most of us don’t even think about budgeting for Christmas until we see the first signs of holiday decor in our favorite department stores.
Shopping for Christmas and holiday decor is an expense that most of us have to plan for so as not to neglect our other financial responsibilities. If you need to create up a last-minute holiday spending budget, these tips can help:
1. Establish who to buy gifts for. Before creating a budget, you need to know how many gifts you plan on buying for Christmas this year. People to remember include co-workers, neighbors, close relatives, spouses, kids, and parents. For families, gifts for classroom gift exchanges and teacher presents will need to be included on the list. And for those who donate to Toys for Tots, don’t forget to factor in a little cash for this worthy cause.
2. How much do you want to spend? Everyone has different levels of what they are willing to spend which often ties in to their financial picture. To use my family as an example, we have a $3 limit on gifts for teachers, co-workers, neighbors and the kids classmates. For close family members such as parents and kids, the limit is $150. Relatives receive family gifts which are limited to $25 per family. To figure up the total amount for your spending budget, multiple the dollar amount that corresponds with the number of people to reach a targeted amount.
3. How much to save each week to hit your goal. Once you’ve totaled up the cost of the presents and divided this sum by the number of weeks left until Christmas, you’ll have a good idea of how much money must be set aside every week to reach your targeted spending budget. For example, if you need $350 to buy gifts for all your friends and relatives and there are seven weeks left until Christmas, you must save $50 a week to meet your goal. If the weekly savings amount is more than you can manage, then it’s back to step 2 where some serious price cutting will be necessary.
4. Shop smart to get the most out of your holiday spending budget. Of course, a budget doesn’t mean a thing if you aren’t willing to stick to the plan. To get the most of out your Christmas spending budget, watch the sales, hit the clearance racks, visit the outlet malls and of course shop the dollar stores to pick up inexpensive gifts that can add extra punch. (check out this article to learn 15 ways you can get more out of your shopping dollar). Also worth remembering is that homemade gifts are equally as appreciated as the store bought kind. Making your own Christmas gifts and combining them with sensibly priced Christmas merchandise is the best way to stay on track with your Christmas spending this year.