The holidays can be a stressful time for those who have presents to buy, but little or no money to spend. There is no reason that your holidays should be stressful and unpleasant however, when you can start off on the right foot by making a holiday budget to live by.
1) The first step I always take when creating a budget is to make a list of everyone I need to get a present for, and how much I’m willing to spend on each person.
2) The second step is to look at how much I have saved thus far for presents. Let’s pretend I have 5 people to buy presents for, and have only saved $20 this far. So my budget list looks like this at this point:
Total money needed: $85 Total money saved: $20 Money I still need to save: $60
3) With the holidays only a few weeks away, it’s time to start cutting costs so that you can save a little more money to meet your budget needs. This is step three, where you look at your daily, and weekly expenses and see where you can cut costs.
First you need to generate a list of extravagant expenses, like coffee from Starbucks, cigarette purchases, things you’re buying for yourself that you don’t really need, and anything you’re buying that is not necessary for life. Cutting your daily coffee will give you $2-$5 a day for your holiday budget, which can add up quickly. In the few weeks prior to holiday spending, try not to buy yourself those little things you enjoy like coffee, magazines, that extra large extra expensive pizza, fast food meals, or restaurant meals. You will be surprised at how much you can save by cooking at home for a few weeks, and cutting costs elsewhere. You can also start buying store brand items for a few weeks instead of name brand items. Put your savings into your bank or in a jar on a shelf and watch your budget grow.
4) The next step is to list out what you plan to get your family and friends for presents, and start saving coupons or planing to buy these items on sale. Don’t be afraid to shop around for the best price or to ask store personnel if this item will go on sale in the next few weeks. This can save you a lot of money. Try to buy the most meaningful gift instead of big expensive things. Remember, it is ok to buy one thing per person if your budget is low. Family will understand, especially in these hard economic times. Don’t forget to check places like freecycle.org where you can ask for free things, and if somebody has it they will give it to you! I even got a gold ring from there once just by asking!
5) Try shopping handmade or second hand. I often find fantastic deals at places like Goodwill or other used goods stores. You can also shop on Craigslist, where people sell goods in great condition for less than half what you would pay in a store for something new. You can always clean an item up before you give it as a gift, and nobody needs to know that it’s used. Don’t forget to try hand-making items yourself. When I don’t have money to give gifts to friends, I make a plate of cookies and wrap it in colorful plastic wrap, or make chocolate covered coffee beans or other handmade goods. There are numerous websites like threadbanger.com that teach you how to make handmade items for cheap or even for free. Family will often find handmade goods especially meaningful because they know the time that you put into it with them in mind.
1) Create a list of who you’re buying for and decide how much to spend on each person.
2) Look at how much you have saved already and how much you still need to save to met your budget needs.
3) Cut costs a few weeks, or even an couple of months before it’s time to buy presents, and keep your savings devoted to presents.
4) List what you plan to get each member on your list and start saving coupons and planning on buying during sales. Shop around for the best prices.
5) Look for second hand items in second hand stores or online. Try making handmade goods. Look online for how to make online goods.
Enjoy your stress-free holiday!