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The holiday season is upon us! This is the time to decorate your home, plan for trips, and finalize your gift getting. While the hustle and bustle is filled with good cheer, especially when paired with some hot cocoa and Bing Crosby tunes, it may also lend a bit of stress as we spend more. So to alleviate your worries of Christmas expenses, consider creating a budget for yourself. This is a simple yet useful tool that is sure to keep your spending ambitions at bay.

  1. Set expectations. Though we love to get carried away with the spirit of Christmas and all its trappings, think realistically about your means for giving. Seriously consider your financial state– what you can and cannot afford. Remember, it’s the thought that counts. And this need not only be said of your millionth pair of unwanted fuzzy socks from your aunt sue. It really is your good intentions that matter most! Gifts given in thoughtfulness, rather than obligation are truly most appreciated. So, not only can you have realistic expectations for yourself, but you can also rest assured that it’s not the price tag that will mean the most to your recipients.
  2. Set limits for yourself (i.e., budget) 
    • It’s not just gifts that will cost you this season. Keep in mind all of the inevitable holiday expenses–gifts, decor, travel expenses, and perhaps a few extra Starbucks trips. Create a clear list that will give you a good picture of the costs you can anticipate– and maybe ones that should be left out.
    • Decide on your spending limit. How much money can you spend on this holiday season? And when you spend it, be sure to only use this set-aside amount. Never spend more than that for which you’ve accounted. And steer clear of credit cards and the temptation to pay off your Christmas bills at a later time. This is never a good idea!
    • Assign money to each expense category. Divide your budget into spending segments. And consider how much you will spend on each. Knowing these spending limits, you can make better-informed giving decisions with narrowed-down ideas.
    • Make a shopping list. Never shop aimlessly and always set out on the journey fully-prepared. Without a plan, you will inevitably purchase things that are unnecessary, thoughtless, and likely more expensive. And don’t forget to shop in accordance with major sales. With plenty of deals to be had this season, make sure you take full advantage!
    • Keep track of your purchases. Don’t let spending take place without taking note of it. Doing so will help you stick to your budget and will make it easier to make any necessary adjustments.
  3. Get creative! Christmas doesn’t have to be an elaborate, sparkling, magazine-worthy event. It can be simple, homemade, and always within budget. You just might have to get a bit creative! And that’s okay because the spirit of Christmas doesn’t come in a department store box.
  4. Refrain from indulging! This can be said of so many facets of the Christmas season. But it’s not just your grandma’s famous pecan pie that should be enjoyed in moderation. While Christmas inherently encourages overeating, overspending, and merely indulging, don’t give in to the temptations! Remember, come January, you’ll regret overdoing it on holiday decor, expensive gives, and a few too many of Santa’s cookies.
  5. Enjoy the little things. Christmas is a season for gathering with loved ones, reflecting on the year past, and giving thanks. It is not about sparkling packages or fancy gifts under the tree. The spirit of Christmas is far more than that! So let’s embrace this as we set aside our spending pressures.

Holiday budgeting is one of our yearly financial feats. But Christmas can undoubtedly be enjoyed without the hefty price tag. With a bit of planning, discipline, and saying no frivolous things, you’re guaranteed a festive, yet affordable season. 

Budgeting isn’t always easy. But when it becomes a habit, it will significantly benefit your financial future.