I’m not sure why I was surprised when I walked into Target last week and saw Christmas decorations, but I was. It seems like they come out earlier and earlier every year. Even Home Depot had decorations out last weekend! With many families facing financial challenges this year, Christmas can be a little less than merry. But it doesn’t have to be.
You can have a wonderful Christmas even if you don’t have a lot of money, but not if you don’t plan. And, if you are a procrastinator like I was this year, there is still time to have a great Christmas and stay under budget.
Here are 5 simple ways to stay under budget this Christmas.
1. Make a Budget
This might seem silly, but if you don’t have a budget you definitely aren’t going to stay under it! Make a list of everyone you normally purchase gifts for and then go over your family budget and see how much money you have available for Christmas spending. Figure out how much money you are able to spend for each person. If money is really tight, start crossing people off the list. 😉
2. Pay Cash for the Gifts
If you have the tendency to overspend on gifts, take out your allotted Christmas money in cash. When it runs out you are done spending. If you like to shop online (as I do) consider getting a prepaid Visa or Mastercard for your shopping.
3. Get Creative
You don’t have to buy all your gifts at the store. Consider giving food gifts, homemade gifts, or even the gift of time. I know when I only had young kids the gift of babysitting was the best gift anyone could ever give me! A $10 Starbucks gift card and a night of free babysitting would make a great gift for a family with young children! You can also consider giving a family gift. Buying presents for individual family members can add up quickly (especially if you have a big family like mine) but you can buy a gift that the whole family will enjoy. (My family gift guide was published last year, but it still has some great ideas)
4. Be a Smart Shopper
With so many amazing deal sites there is no reason to not be a savvy shopper this Christmas. Before I purchase anything online (except on Amazon) I look for a coupon code for my purchase. I save up my gift cards from Swag Bucks to use for Christmas gifts. This year I might be getting Groupons for people in my family. With so many great deals there is no excuse for paying full price on anything these days!
5. Be Honest
I realize that there are families out there that are truly hurting. You may have lost your job, your car, or even your home. Christmas is not about impressing your friends and family with extravagant gifts. If you cannot afford to buy gifts be honest about it. This year one of my relatives is on a strict and small budget. We all understand and would be happy to only be gift givers to this family. No one wants you to go into debt, not be able to pay your power bill, or miss a meal because of a gift. Be honest about your situation and allow someone to bless your family this year.