Holiday Budgeting Fun!
I’m being sarcastic. There is nothing fun about trying to fit the joy of the holiday season into a meager, or any, budget. I’m Jewish, so I am super lucky to have fewer expectations upon me this time of year. But I still have Hannuka, and I still have people in my life that I am expected to gift. Examples include postman, garbageman, etc. The biggest one for me is my Kid’s teachers. It’s expected to give them a holiday gift, and I certainly do not want to be the parent who doesn’t deliver! The things we do for our kids!
Lists, lists, and more lists. Are you finished with all your lists? And most importantly, your HOLIDAY LIST.
I don’t mean the gifts you are going to buy for people. I mean the amounts that you are willing/able to spend. Money is tight in our household these days, so we are setting pretty strict limits on what we will spend this holiday season. Thank goodness my kids are young and don’t expect much! What I do is figure out the amount that I can spend this year. I look at what I have in my “Holiday” account and figure out approximately what will be added from now until then.
How Much Money Are You Spending?
How Much Money do You Have Saved?
Then I take the following things into account:
- Gifts- who I am I buying for this year?
- Tips- who expect them? Who do I want to show appreciation for? What is the standard for teacher’s gifts?
- Parties- I am throwing any this year? How much will that run me?
- Extras- doughnuts, hot cocoa, peppermint bark… the list goes on. Which seasonal items do we think we are going to purchase?
Then I allocate the amount that I have by all the “obligations” I have. Maybe this year I won’t make a party. Maybe I will but on a really tight budget. Maybe our “extras” will be pretty skimpy this year. Is there anything I can DIY?
I set a dollar price on gifts. As all the stores come out with their sales and catalogs, I look at each one and see what fits into my price range. If I find a great deal, I either have more to spend on that person or another person. For example, my son’s budget is $10 this year (I told you money is tight!). He really wants a playmobile. I check all the deal sites and set up an Amazon price alert. As soon as the price drops under $10- I will purchase it and hide it! If I spend less- great! If the price never drops- I will have to see if I saved money elsewhere to buy him what he wants. If I don’t have that extra money, he will have to do with something else. (It better go down in price!)
It is Not About the Gifts
We are trying to raise our kids to enjoy and appreciate the holidays BESIDES the gifts they receive. Gifts are MOST ASSUREDLY NOT the center of our holiday season. Of course, they are getting a gift- I am not going to deprive them of that totally. But the gift they will receive will be within our budget- as modest as it may be. I would not be doing them any favors to raise them to focus overly on gifts or put our (and therefore they’re) financial future in jeopardy to go into debt to buy them a present!
Of course, it’s easy for me to wax lyrical about saving money on gifts. It’s not as important to me as it is to other people. Budgeting is about choosing what is important to us. We choose what is our important to us based on our culture and social group.