The heat is sweltering, the humidity is at 90%, and my mind turns to Christmas. That’s right, Christmas. That bright and shiny gift-giving season is only 4 months away. Now is the time to set up your budget and start thinking about how you want to celebrate. Starting now will help spread the cost out and give you more time to shop for gifts.
Before you break out your ledger and calculator you first must think about what Christmas means to you. Is Christmas a time for friends and family, giving to charity, a strictly religious celebration, or is it all about the presents? Once you decide on what Christmas is, that will help you to plan ahead. If Christmas is more about giving to charity , than that should guide your spending. Give token gifts to loved ones instead of elaborate gifts. The same is true for the religious celebration. If its all about family and friends, than give gifts that are meaningful to the recipient. Again don’t go over board. Those that love you do not want you going into debt in order to buy them the perfect gift. If it’s all about the gifts, than you may want to reevaluate your thinking.
Now for the hard work. The goal is to not spend more than you have. Look at your regular monthly budget, see how much you make and subtract you regular expenses. Now out of what is left decide on how much of that you want to spend on gift giving. Remember let your meaning of Christmas guide you. Don’t forget to set aside money for charity or seasonal parties you may have. For example: after expense you have $400 a month left, how much do you really need to spend on gifts. Not all of it. The more materialistic society has become the more materialistic Christmas has become. Small, carefully chosen gifts that have special meaning are usually more than enough.
After you have figured out the amount of money you have to spend, make a master list of people to shop for. Not every person you know needs a gift. It is so easy to get caught up in the chaos that the modern Christmas has become. You are afraid of not having a gift for everyone, or it won’t be as nice a gift as the Jones’ gifts. So what. They will be in debt until July 4th and you will not! When you have your list, think about what they like, their interests, what would make a nice gift. Write your ideas down and start shopping early. Don’t go shopping without your list and mark them off as you go. Stay within your target price and don’t buy on impulse.