Hi, girls! I wanted to turn the blog over today to my adorable sis-in-law Sarah, a super mom, extraordinary wife, amazing friend and financial expert. Since I tend to be better at spending money than budgeting it (oops), I thought I'd let her take the lead on this one : )
She also does personal budget counseling through her side business, Dollars and Sense. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested!
Hello! When Leslie asked me if I’d consider doing a guest post for her today on tips for Christmas spending, I jumped at the chance! I’m a self-proclaimed numbers nerd, and if I can share my thoughts and help someone, even better. I think so many times people get overwhelmed by the "B" word. But let me tell you, budgets can be your friend. I hope you’ll find some tips here that you can put into practice to make your holiday spending a little less stressful.
Just a little background about me so you aren’t wondering what makes me qualified to offer this kind of advice: I have a bachelor’s degree in Accounting as well as an MBA. I currently work as the supervisor of general accounting at one of our local utility companies. I really enjoy working with numbers (obviously, or why would I subject myself to being an accountant, right?!).
Here are several ways to budget and plan for Christmas spending, as well as some other ideas to hopefully help you stretch your dollar as far as possible:
- Buy for people throughout the year as you see things they might like. – I’ll admit, this is a good theory. I don’t personally do this because when I do, inevitably, I’ll find something as Christmas gets closer that I know they would pink puffy heart LOVE, or something they might really, really want and I can’t get it because I got the gift like 5 months ago. If this works for you, then by all means do it. Just don’t forget where you hide it!
- Set up a Christmas savings account. – I think this is a far more practical approach. Many financial institutions offer savings accounts specifically for funding the holidays. If this interests you, begin with your bank to see what they offer. Most of these accounts will draw some interest (though likely not much), and there are restrictions on withdrawals to prevent you from using this money whenever you feel like it. If you need a little more control over your spending, this might be a really great option for you. Determine the amount of money you want to spend on Christmas gifts, and then make monthly/semi-monthly/weekly deposits. When Christmastime arrives, you withdraw the funds for spending. If you are not well disciplined at keeping a budget or saving money, I would HIGHLY recommend this method. If you want to do this, be thinking about it now for next year!
- Incorporate your Christmas expenses into your budget all year long. – If you don’t want to open a savings account, you can incorporate your Christmas expenses into your monthly budget for the entire year. The thing about this is, you CANNOT spend the money! You HAVE to be disciplined to do this method. This is the approach we currently use, but I believe we will be using the savings account next year. Here’s how we do this: To avoid spending what we budget and not having it when Christmas comes, whatever amount we budget, I record as a transaction in the checkbook as if we’ve spent it. Then as we spend, I adjust the balance. You’ll need to be diligent about tracking if you want this option to work for you.
- Set your spending amount ahead of time - Do this by person. Then, STICK TO IT!!! You can easily spend way more than you intended. I love giving people gifts that I think they will love. I’m sometimes guilty of spending more than I planned because I think it’s worth it to see someone’s face light up at the perfect gift. That being said, doing that can get pricey.
- Put money in your account for an angel – Obviously, this isn’t a must but something I feel strongly about. I know that we have SO much and I like to spread the Christmas spirit to those who may not otherwise have a Christmas. It breaks my heart to think of a child having nothing on Christmas.
- Find ways to make extra cash – This is a GREAT way to help with the holidays. If you have a direct selling business, can pick up side jobs, or anything. One thing I’ve done this year that has helped is use Ebates. Are y’all familiar with that? You sign up, go there before you start shopping, it creates a tracking ticket, you shop as normal, and then you get a percentage of purchase back in cash! I promise it’s easy as it sounds and LEGIT! I’m about to get a $60.00 deposit just from shopping online through Ebates. You can sign up by clicking here.
- Shop around for deals – Check out various places before making a pricey purchase. You may just find what you are looking for on sale. The gift we are getting my daughter was marked down on Thanksgiving morning by $80.00! I was so excited. Also, when my husband and I went to Dallas for the weekend, I found a purse and it was love at first sight. We went ahead and purchased as a Christmas present. It’s been sitting in my closet waiting for Christmas and shortly after we got home, I got an email that it’d been marked down. Way down. So this past weekend, I took it to another location with the intent to return and buy again. They were out so I asked the manager if I could get a price adjustment and they let me! Be mindful of ways like this that you can save some serious money.
These are just some of the things that we put into use that have really helped us. I hope that maybe one of these will help you determine a good plan for your holiday spending. If you have any tips that work for you, I’d love to hear them.
And I want to say a big thank you to Leslie for allowing me to share with you today! Wishing you all a happy and blessed Christmas!
Be blessed, lovelies-