“Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat. Please put a penny in the old man’s hat.
If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do. If you haven’t got a ha’penny, then God bless you!”
As the nursery rhyme suggests, Christmas is indeed coming, it’s just around the corner. In fact, it’s just 96 days away. Have you prepared your Christmas Budget? September is the perfect time to decide how much you want to spend on gifts and festivities this year. The sooner you make a Christmas budget and start saving up for all those expenses, the sooner you’ll crush any shopping-season stress.
1. Make a list
Making a list is the obvious first step. Write down everyone you want to purchase a gift for this holiday season. Don’t forget the workplace secret Santa or your child’s teacher.
2. Assign a budget
You have the list now it’s time to assign a monetary value beside each person. Write down what you wish to pay beside each person. e.g.
Spouse – €100, Daughter – €100, Sibling – €50
Once you’ve assigned each person a budget, calculate the total.
3. Revisit the list
Now you’ve seen the total amount you wish to spend on gifts this year, you need to ask yourself if this amount is achievable without the use of credit cards or loans. If the answer is no, you will need to revisit the list.
Go back through and cut out, combine or reduce. Cutting out friends, office colleagues or teachers is tough. Nobody wants to talk about not being able to afford gifts this year, however, for me, it’s not worth going into debt over.
In recent years, we’ve really reduced the number of gifts we buy and the budget we set for each person. I’ve had to have conversations with aunts/uncles and friends about stopping the Christmas gift exchange. Closer to Christmas, I meet with friends for a drink or lunch and this works better for everyone involved. We have started to combine both parents gifts into one. I used to spend €50 each on my mom and dad but now I only spend €75 on a combined gift such as a hotel stay.
There are many ways to reduce the costs and it’s important that you work at this to ensure no debt is achieved. Nobody wants to face their credit card bill in January, with line after line of new debts. Take the time now in September to make the cuts to ensure January looks bright (financially).
4. Other Christmas Budget Costs
It’s essential you don’t forget the other costs involved for Christmas.
- Christmas Cards
- Christmas Day Dinner
- Children/Work Christmas Party
- Christmas Decorations
- Christmas Tree
- Donations to Church or Charity
- The big Christmas food Shop
- New clothes for the occasions
- Shoebox Appeal
- Wrapping Paper or Gift Bags
- Santa Visit
- Stocking Stuffers
The list is endless, however, these extras cannot be ignored. As above write down how much each of the extras will cost and calculate the total.
5. Divide and Conquer
You have the revised gift giving total and now the extras total. Adding both of these together will give you a heart attack, but it’s better you know the estimated grand total.
There are 13 weeks left until Christmas, divide the grand total by 13 and aim to save this amount every week.
Now that you’ve assigned each person a budget, you can start shopping early. Since you are starting early, you can really shop around, wait for a good sale and get the best possible price. Saving money on this gift, put the remainder of this gift budget towards another gift or something from step 4.
This final tip won’t help this Christmas but it will ensure next Christmas is taken care of. In January, start a saving fund specifically for Christmas. Look back at the total spend this year and split the cost over the whole year.
I now save €70 per month throughout the year to ensure all our gifts and Christmas essentials are covered. Once September comes round, I sit down with Robert and do as this post described. Make a list, check it twice and ensure we have enough money to pay for Christmas without gathering debt.
If you are looking for some gift or stocking stuffer ideas, check out my Christmas category here.
Until next time,