Practical Budgeting Tips

Creating an Intentional Christmas Budget -Part 2 of 4

OK, team, we’re on a mission. Let’s call it “operation stay out of debt and make healthy financial decisions.” 😉

Last week, I shared some statistics around increased spending for Christmas, as well as underlying principles to help you prepare and frame your perspective for this busy season. As I mentioned here, over half our country plans to take on debt this time of year, so we need a plan. xmas_pt2_280x500_preview

This week, I want to focus on a practical tips. I’m  super pumped to provide a Christmas budget template! It’s free and you don’t have to subscribe. Simply download from links at the bottom of this post (printable and excel).

Throughout the template, there’s helpful reminders to help you stick to your budget.

So, let’s get right to it!

5 Tips to Create a Budget for Christmas:

1. Determine how much you have to spend.

How much would you like to spend on Christmas this year? Are you spending beyond your means? In my opinion, you shouldn’t go beyond what’s financially wise, let alone take on debt.

If there’s a gap between what you’d like to spend and what you have, where can you save to put money towards a Christmas budget (i.e. eating out less, making coffee at home, minimizing groceries expenses, etc.)?

Pausing to make a budget and predict how much you’ll spend is a great eye-opener. You’ll realize where you’re money is going and have an opportunity to reassess.

2. List spending categories and allocate funds.

Once you have your overall budget, based on what you can afford and in alignment with your priorities, allocate to each category. If you find you’re going over, “clean up your list” and trim back.

It’s OK to spend less than you normally would on gifts and/or change traditions. We definitely did during our debt-free journey. We used the decorations we already had and used a live wreath instead of purchasing a Christmas tree. It’s been refreshing to learn how you can get creative and not feel like you’re missing out.

wreath
Drew and my first Christmas, 2 months after we got married. ❤

 

3. Think of gift ideas BEFORE shopping (this is war and you need a game plan!).

I typically shop at Marshalls/TJ Maxx because I can find something for almost everyone in the family for a great price. I also love Amazon, especially if I’m looking for something unique. The mall is fun if you want a Christmas atmosphere, but I rarely shop there because prices are higher.

4. Track how much is spent as you go.

When we were paying off our debt, we tracked everything we spent. Everything. This is so helpful in saving money, so of course I have to include it here.

We also try to avoid just getting something to check the box and have a gift for someone. Keep it simple. Keep it special.

5. Renew your mind often.

Ask yourself why sticking to a budget is important to you. When you’re tempted to overspend, is it something truly special and what’s good for you and yours, or pressure from media, family, or comparison? Have a game plan and remember it. REPEAT.

Like I mentioned last week, the US spends approximately $1 trillion on Christmas as a nation. We will be marketed to and tempted to spend above our means. Are you ready for the battle?

 

Here are the templates I put together to assist you this year (with my hubs’ help making it look nice!):

Printable PDF: Intentional_Christmas_Budget

This is great because you can carry it with you and track as you go…and it’s pretty!

XmasBudget(1)

Excel: Intentional Christmas Budget

This format has built in formulas to track your spending.

Example of budget in progress:

Screen Shot 2017-11-30 at 5.10.30 PM

 

Graphic cred:

I hope this helps you focus on the true meaning of Christmas (Jesus!) and equips you to make special memories without making financial decisions you’ll regret.

Peace and joy!

Em

 

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