It’s finally summer time and you’re able to kick back and relax by the pool…it seems crazy to be thinking about Christmas plans and gifts…but before we know it, we’ll be counting down the days until Santa (and our credit card bill) comes.
Most years, we put off budgeting and buying until the end of November (not a good idea). Especially now after having kids, I think it’s so important to start early so that you’re not left with the extra stress AND credit card bills. If you think back to how overwhelmed you felt this past January with holiday bills it should be an easy YES to deciding on budgeting in advance.
The first thing I like to do is to make a budget that makes sense. This includes really sitting down and figuring out how much you can afford to spend. This will help keep gift buying realistic and the pressure from all the sales down. Once you are set on an amount, divide the number by 6 (6 months). This is a great way to see if you’ll be able to save up the right amount of money in time for the holidays. I’ve personally done this several times and still had to go back to re-evaluate for a more reasonable amount so that I wouldn’t end up with more bills.
Next, start early!! Starting to plan gifts in advance is a game changer. This will give you more time to think about what you truly want to get each person and make the gifts more meaningful and intentional. This also gives you the opportunity to shop different sales (prime day, military discount week at Target, etc..). Giving yourself more time will also allow you to budget the amount needed for the holidays. Such as planning for traveling expenses to see family, work gift exchanges, and Christmas cards (don’t forget new family pictures!!). Setting this plan into action will help turn the dread of shopping into a positive experience you can truly afford.
Lastly, start saving money – the hardest part. There are so many creative ways to help save and put money aside for Christmas. My favorite is the envelope stash! We like to keep an envelope in the house where we put all our extra cash. Throughout the year if we sell things around the house or have extra money from an event or gift, we just toss it in our envelope. This helps a ton when it comes to buying gifts early and not having to use our regular checking account.
Another great way to break down your budget is to take your set spending amount and divide it by 6. This will give you the amount of money that you need to be saving each month before the holidays come. You can then plan for how much to budget from each paycheck and stay on track with all your bills.
Christmas seems like it’s so far away but in reality – it’s just a few months down the road. It will be well worth it to take advantage of your extra time this year and begin to budget for Christmas in July!