Tis' the season for overspending and over eating. We all usually end up over indulging over the holidays only to sign up for a long list of new years resolutions to do things differently next year and to shed the extra five pounds we managed to put on over the holidays. It seems like a never ending cycle. The end of November arrives, panic sets in and the craziness begins. We all feel like we have to shove so much stuff into such a little itty-bitty time frame that the holidays soon become an over burdening, stressful and unenjoyable time. Wouldn't it be nice to really make a change and get off the hamster wheel and do things differently? What if doing Christmas on a budget not only meant not over spending but also not over burdening yourself with 8 million activities and parties and family functions? Below are a few tips on how you can begin to do Christmas on a budget with both finances and functions. Hopefully it helps!
#1. Set a financial budget. This one is a pretty big no-brainer. Figure out your budget and figure out how much you would like to spend on Christmas in total. Set your budget and stick to it. Only use cash. No credit cards. It is to easy to charge a few things and forget about them and totally blow your budget out of the water. Using cash eliminates this problem and lets you know exactly how much you have left to spend and when you run out of money you are done. Simple as that. A big perk to doing Christmas this way is that you won't have to worry about a bunch of credit card bills piling up on your door step later on in January. Won't that be nice?
#2. Plan you Christmas menu. A big budget buster that often times gets over looked is the Christmas dinner menu and all of the baking of Christmas cookies and cakes. All of the costs of those ingredients can really add up and before you know it you have spent well over $200 just on food for one day. Now depending on how many people you are serving $200 or more might be an appropriate budget but in reality the average gathering size is between 8 and 12 people. Doing a little bit of research in this area can really help save you a ton of money and keep that budget on track. Check store fliers in your area for great sales and deals. Check and clip any coupons that you might be able to use. But most importantly sit down and figure out your dinner menu and your cookie and baking list and don't stray from it. You don't need to kill yourself by making 15 different kinds of Christmas cookie or cake. A good variety is 4 to 5. If you want more of a variety than that sign up for a cookie exchange. That way you don't have to do all the work yourself. Christmas dinner doesn't need to have such a huge over abundance either. Keep it simple. Figure out what works for you and your family and keep your side dishes down to a minimum. Do you really need to make 3 different kinds of potato dishes?
#3. Make a list of who you need to buy for. This one is simple and can probably offer up the most savings in your holidays. Sit down and make up a list of who you need to buy for and the amount you would like to spend on each person. Take the list with you when you shop and make sure to stay within your preset budget perimeters. This will alleviate over spending and trying to remember who you need to get gifts for.
#4. Learn to say NO. It is the season of love and getting together with friends and family but remember there are only so many days within the month of December and only so many Saturdays. Don't over plan your month by trying to say yes to every invitation that comes your way. While it is great to get together with family and friends over the holidays it is not so great to be jumping from one place to another never really being able to slow down and enjoy any of it. If you can, try really hard not to double book your days with parties and events. This will burn you out very quickly and instead of enjoying your time you will be watching the clock and worrying about how you are going to manage through traffic to the next party instead of enjoying the moment you are in. It is okay to decline an invitation now and than to save yourself some stress.
It is real easy to let this time of year get the best of us and stress us out completely but in reality it never needs to be that way at all. The real reason for the season isn't dinner menus, presents or parties. The real reason for the season is to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus and the gift of love and saving grace that he brought down to earth. If we remember to keep it simple and not spread ourselves to thin it will give us the chance to really enjoy the holidays and make the memories that really count. So relax, take a little break and enjoy the moment you are in, you never know it just might turn out to be one of your favorite Christmas memories.