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Hi! Alex here. My mom finally nagged me enough to write my first post so here it is! Just in time for the holidays.
I know it sounds crazy, but in my opinion, Christmas starts November 1st. That’s usually when businesses start playing the music. Stores are getting ready for Black Friday. Your kids are already starting their lists and everyone has forgotten Halloween even happened. And if you’re like me, you hate it. Another problem you have if you’re like me, is that you tried so hard not to think about it you have nothing saved up and no idea what to get your family. So now that we have accepted Christmas season is upon us, what do we do next?
1. Start a budget.
It’s never too late to trim the fat off your budget. Now is a good time to see what upcoming bills you have and how much extra you can save. This goes for any size budget, whether you have a steady savings or live paycheck to paycheck. Tips when making a budget. Use your most recent paystubs or paycheckcity.com for your income. PaycheckCity will help you calculate the taxes taken from each check based on where you live and how many dependents you claim. Next, you need to write down all of your bills. Rent, Car/ Transportation, Groceries, Wine Money. Always overestimate on things that fluctuate ex: gas, food, utility bills. I also strongly recommend looking into level pay for utilities if they offer it.
If you are terrible with money another good thing to add is a miscellaneous section or splurge allowance. If you have $50 set aside for a splurge and then your favorite store has a sale, you can shop and still be on track to save. As you make your budget, be thinking of where you can cut back too. If you are currently spending $100 or more on food a week I have a meal planning budget guide with recipes coming up that you can check out. If you’re eating out more often than necessary, see how much you could be saving by cooking at home.
2. Make a secret list.
It works for Santa, so why not you? I tend to carry a notebook around everywhere, but if you don’t maybe it’s time to start. When the holiday season hits, I usually pick a random page (in case anyone gets nosy) and I don’t even label it. I just make columns for everyone I plan to buy presents for. This is also a good time to figure out how much you want to spend on each person and maybe just write it next to them. Even if that’s all you have at this point it’s a good start.
It’s also a good way to not forget anyone because even as I wrote this, I thought of someone I forgot to put on mine. Part of making the list is keeping it ON YOU. Now when you’re out and someone says they need something or want something, you can write it down. Usually, you’ll be shopping or somewhere you can get a price right there and it also eliminates picking it out for them. It’s so much better than asking everyone “What do you want for Christmas?”
9/10 your kids will pick the most expensive ridiculous things, and your friends/family will have the typical response “I don’t need anything,” But 2 days ago at Target they said they really needed a new set of wine glasses. Wouldn’t it be great if you thought to write it down when they mentioned it, and actually got the style they wanted and at a good price?
3. Save money, save money, save money.
We want to save money while saving up money and maybe come out of the holidays with some extra. Now you have an idea of what you are able to spend and what you want to spend. For some those numbers may not match. So it’s time to save in every aspect of the word. We’ve gone over our budget and saved what we could there. The next thing to do is save on what we are buying. Some items will NEVER go on sale. If you have a gift that is unique or personalized, chances are you will pay full price.
But for everything else, when there’s a will to save, there is a way! And that is sales and coupons. Now is the time to be weekly ad hunting. Sign up for the emails and get 20% off your total. The best part of this is that you have your list already. You know the items you’re looking for. Whenever that item goes on sale, you can get it. Black Friday is when they have the most deals, but not always the best. So don’t rely on that to get everything.
And never count out DIY gifts. I really recommend DIY for coworkers, neighbors, and stocking stuffers. When you don’t know the person as intimately as a family member, sometimes a little holiday treat or decoration is the best way to go. DIY is also a great way to come out of the holidays with extra money, by using items you may have already laying around.
4. Expect the Unexpected.
This sounds typical, but it’s true. Every plan made will always have a kink. Some are big and some are small. So when you make your budget, always leave wiggle room. Budgeting to the penny can lead to being in a tight spot if an unexpected bill shows up. Don’t have your heart set on items that might be sold out. Don’t plan a ton of DIY gifts and leave it all for the last week. You probably won’t get the best price on every item.
And a bottle of wine or Egg Nog should always be kept on hand for the rough days! It’s only November, but we can get through this. ???