How to Save for Christmas (the Easy Way) featured in a holiday budget guide on the Southern Momdays blogIf you’re one of thousands stressing over “how to buy Christmas” every time December rolls around, you’re not alone.

The holidays are the most stressful time of the year, and I’m not just talking about screaming babies and nosy Aunt Gertrude as I write this. I’m talking about money problems, which cause a hefty heap of the holiday turmoil. It’s a fact; it’s challenging to save for Christmas!

Obligatory co-worker gifts, expensive family presents, and never-ending social outings with friends can derail any budget. Add in a mess of kids with long Christmas lists and a few unplanned parties, and suddenly, oops! You’ve cracked your nest egg and have to pick up the pieces the morning after Christmas, instead of sleeping in and enjoying warm family moments.

It doesn’t have to be that way, though.

You can save for Christmas, create a fail-proof holiday budget, and buy the gifts you really want to give this season by following the 5 steps below.

Whether you have 12 months or 12 days until Christmas, you can get your act together in time for a better holiday season with less stress and without debt. Here’s how to get started!

  1. Make a list of everyone you need to buy a gift for this year. Decide how much you can or want to spend on each person.

I set these small budgets before I “window shop” for each gift. This helps me stay within my overall budget by only shopping for items that I know are within my price range, rather than trying to fit a big-ticket item within a small budget – and then wondering how in the world I can afford it all.

If you do have a big gift in mind for someone, consider splitting the cost and jointly giving the gift with another friend or family member.

Keep in mind that the dollar amount you “assign” to each person isn’t about how much that person is “worth” to you. It’s simply about what you can afford comfortably.

And if you have a friend who channels Leslie Knope and always gives crazy gifts that require crazy reciprocity, consider suggesting a simple ornament exchange that’ll help curb some of her enthusiasm.

 

 

  1. Make a list of all your holiday expenditures outside of gifts.

You might need a hostess gift for each social gathering. You’ll probably need a white elephant gift for one or two of them, too. If you’re hosting the family Christmas meal, you’ll need to provide the heavy-hitters. (Think turkey or ham with fixings, along with any décor you plan to have around.) And don’t forget about Christmas cards and postage – those add up!

 



 

  1. Divide and conquer your new holiday budget!

Y’all know how much I love my family’s zero-based budget. Well, we save for Christmas via a simple line item in it. You don’t have to do a full zero-based budget (although I highly recommend that you do!). But the key to saving for big expenses around the holidays is to save for them over time. You know Christmas and the holidays are coming, after all. Instead of letting them surprise your finances every year, take control of the situation by saving throughout the year.

Baby playing with Christmas gifts in How to Save for Christmas (the Easy Way), featured in a holiday budget guide on the Southern Momdays blog

Here’s how:

Add up your total gift budget and your other holiday expenditures from steps 1 and 2 above. Now, divide it all by the number of weeks or months you have until Christmas. This is the amount that you need to be saving weekly or monthly to reach your goals for your holiday budget. Move the money to a savings account to keep yourself from being tempted to spend it throughout the year.

  1. Make adjustments as necessary, but then stick to the holiday budget.

Not enough time or money to save for Christmas and fit everything into your budget? It’s time to trim down or cut out a few things from your list, then.

Keep that list handy so you’re able to stick to your budget while you’re shopping during the holidays!

  1. Remember, Christmas is about celebrating Jesus’ birth with family and friends – not presents.

It’s not about who gives the most extravagant gifts. The people who love you will be happy with small Christmas gifts, inexpensive Christmas gifts, and even handmade Christmas gifts as long as they’re given warmly.

So if you’re working to get out of debt and just don’t have much wiggle room for gifts, or if your budget’s small because you simply don’t have the funds right now, or if you stumbled across this list just days before Christmas and can’t save for everything in time, give yourself the gift of peace this season.

It’s more than okay to let the focus of the holiday simply be Jesus and time with friends and family. Who cares whether the gifts are big, small, handmade, or merely a warm embrace? After all, my fondest Christmas memories have little to do with gifts! If you think about it, you probably can relate.

 

Red and gold Christmas ornaments on tree in How to Save for Christmas (the Easy Way), featured in a holiday budget guide on the Southern Momdays blog

 

It’s easy to save for Christmas and create a great holiday budget! You just need to be diligent and consistent over time.

Just don’t lose focus! It’s easy to want to buy all the things. Believe me, I know. Christmas is my favorite time of year! I let my budget control my excitement, though – not the other way around. We’re definitely a less-stressed family because of it. And you can be, too.

 

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How to Save for Christmas (the Easy Way) featured in a holiday budget guide on the Southern Momdays blog

 

Tell me how you like to save for Christmas in the comments below, friends!

I can’t wait to hear your tips.

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