I love Christmas, it my favorite time of year! The holidays in general, great time spent together with friends and family. Also great weather! I am naturally a cold weather person so the winter is my favorite time of year. Don’t get me wrong by March I’m looking forward to those hot summer days but like I always say, you can also put more clothes on but you can only take so many off!
Every year my family decides that we are going to draw names to determine who buys who a Christmas gift. However by the time the big day arrives, usually one or many of us have purchased gifts for all the kids, grand kids, nieces, nephews and anyone else I’ve left out. The December budget seems to be the hardest budget to do at the Davis household. If you are doing a budget and doing one correctly, you need to be doing one each month. That means in December you must budget for gifts. Not that I don’t want or enjoy giving gifts what enjoy the least is going over budget! Also for us, and maybe you too, our utilities seems to be the highest in December! Here are a few tips to help you stay within your budget during the Christmas season:
1. Shop the deals.
Looking for deals in the local paper and online is key this time of year. I come from retail and love it. The most fun retail months are November (Black Friday) and December. Retailers are forced to be competitive this time of year so take advantage of that! Also, don’t forget the online stores who are chomping at the bit to get your business.
2. Make a list. (check it twice)
When holiday shopping make a list. Have the discipline to get only what is on your list. Guys are really good at this! Most guys, myself included, have zero interest in “shopping” at the mall. If you have a list, you know exactly what you are going in the store after and somewhat of an idea of what it cost. That way its easy to budget! Remember, the goal here is stay within your budget and not have regret about buying things that you really can’t afford. If you overspend it kind of takes the joy out of the season.
3. Stay away from plastic.
I have several friends who use plastic for the “points” or “rewards”. Using a credit card can be very dangerous especially at Christmas time. I don’t need to put all my expenses on a credit card so that I can spend $100,000 to get a free airline ticket. I don’t really care if I earn “cashback” on purchases that I “would be buying anyway”. What’s in your wallet? CASH!! Budget what you are going to spend and withdrawal that as cash and leave the cards at home. Frankly, the only plastic you should have is a debit card, but leave that at home too! I was at a retail store the other day and my purchase was $4.64. I immediately reached for my debit card not even thinking about the $20 bill that I had in my other pocket. We have become a plastic society and cash is almost obsolete for some of us. I remember when I was a kid and just got my license. I also remember paying $.99 for fuel!! Ok, I’m not that old but still, we didn’t really have debit cards. We had cash. And if you had no cash, you didn’t buy anything! This works for staying on a budget. My wife still pulls out enough cash to cover our food budget each month. Once the cash is gone, we have hit our budget!
Following these points will help keep you in the Christmas spirit. It will also keep you from having regret in the new year!