Yes yes, I know there’s a while to go before Christmas – but you’re going to have to forgive me for mentioning it so soon because when it comes to looking at your Christmas budget it’s vital to get it done as early as you possibly can so that have time to save and tweak things if needed.
After all, if you don’t, you may end up getting to Christmas and finding you’ve had to max out your credit card – or you simply can’t afford what you need….
Budgeting is so very important.
It’s the one thing that most of us dislike doing, but what makes the most difference to how much we can enjoy the festivities once they come around.
It really does make things easier, and less stressful if you can work your spending around what you actually can afford rather than worrying about debt come January…
I’ve created this very simple step by step guide to help you through creating your very own budget – one that works for your exact requirements and income. It will make the whole process really simple, and I hope it helps!
STEP ONE – WHAT DO YOU NEED TO BUY?
Starting at the beginning, it makes sense to work out what you need to spend on Christmas. This is your starting point to creating a budget that will really work for you.
Brainstorm EVERYTHING that you will need to have in the run up to Christmas.
This is the most important number to know – you need to be shown the reality of what you are planning – and start from there.
The list can include things like: –
etc….. be ultra specific and don’t leave anything out (hidden expenses are a killer).
Also – write down what you want to spend on each thing – and be realistic!
…By the way, there’s a budget list in my Christmas Planner that you can use to write it all down and total it up if this helps (along with shopping lists for food, household items, cards and presents – so you can keep track of it all!).
STEP TWO – WHAT DO YOU ALREADY HAVE?
If you’ve got things in the house already that can be used for any of the list you’ve created, then this amount can be taken out of the budget at this stage, because it’s already there.
For example – Perhaps you have wrapping paper from last year that you therefore don’t have to buy etc… – take this off what you actually need to spend this.
Or you may have bought all your decorations last year and don’t need anymore – or you may have some presents in your gift drawer that can be taken off the present budget.
Really have a think about what you have, and be as specific as possible. I always find it amazing how many presents I’ve already bought that will be perfect for people over the year!
STEP THREE – WHAT MONEY DO YOU HAVE AT THIS MOMENT?
Work out what you actually have right now in your savings/account to spend on Christmas.
Have you been saving a little each month over the past year? (The ideal way, and I would definitely recommend this going forward – starting in January!), do you plan on using a chunk of your income just before Christmas? Are you working extra hours etc…?
Be realistic as to what money you will have to spend. Ideally you want to spend what you have rather than go to credit cards (otherwise you will end up paying off Christmas after the event each year and will never be able to catch up).
STEP FOUR – WORK OUT WHETHER YOU CAN AFFORD CHRISTMAS RIGHT NOW
To do this, you just need to use your overall budget figure (what you worked out in Step 1) and take away the amounts from Steps 2 and 3.
If this number is positive, then you already ave enough to be able to pay for your Christmas – well done – you can simply go ahead and spend as you need to. Go to STEP 6…
If it’s a negative number, then there’s some work still to be done! Go to Step 5…
STEP FIVE – TWEAK YOUR BUDGET
If you don’t have enough money to pay for the Christmas you are budgeting for, then some tweaks (big or small) need to be made.
First off, what is the negative number from STEP 4? – this is the amount you need to find – and there are 2 ways of doing this: –
METHOD ONE – DECIDE TO EARN THIS EXTRA MONEY BETWEEN NOW AND CHRISTMAS
- Maybe you can do some overtime
- Maybe you can take on more clients if you work for yourself
- Maybe you can sell some of the stuff you no longer need (clothes, DVDs etc…)
- Go for a no spend month – a month where you only spend on essentials – it’s amazing how much you can save just by doing this and it’s only for a short time. (For example – stop takeouts, that daily coffee shop visit, eat from the freezer and pantry, have nights in rather than evenings out etc…).
METHOD TWO – DECIDE TO RETHINK YOUR BUDGET AND LOWER IT TO WHAT YOU ACTUALLY CAN AFFORD
- Decide what is absolutely crucial, and what can be taken away. Prioritise what’s important for you.
- Make presents, spend a little less on everyone, Don’t send cards, borrow an outfit for a party from a friend instead of buying a new one etc…
(You can also find extra tips in the CHRISTMAS MONEY SAVING TIPS post).
Sit down and really brainstorm what you can do from these ideas that will work for you and your life – and the time you have available.
Whatever works for you is the right way – and you could always do a bit of both if you prefer!
STEP SIX – STICK TO YOUR BUDGET
Whether your budget worked straight away for what you have saved, or whether you needed to tweak it, you should now be at the stage where you have a budget that works for you and your finances.
The numbers should match between what you have saved, and what you need/want to spend.
– But you mustn’t stop there!
The most crucial part of making your budget work is to STICK TO THE BUDGET as much as you possibly can.
Please don’t be tempted to overspend – your future self will thank you for staying within the boundaries you’ve set!
Having (and sticking to) a budget for the big things in life such as Christmas makes it so much easier.
You won’t have any nasty bills come in, you can see where you may have to juggle things around a little, and you can start to prepare accordingly.
Remember, Christmas really is only a few days in an entire year. We all put so much pressure on ourselves to do everything amazingly, to buy the best presents, to decorate like a magazine, and to host amazing parties – but really it all comes down to spending time with those you want to, and enjoying it. Everything else is just dressing!
Balance what you can, don’t go overboard, and you will find that when January rolls around you can smile safe in the knowledge that you won’t have any credit card bills to pay off.
I for one prefer this way of doing things – how about you? (I’d love to know how you budget for Christmas, and if you do at all – so please leave a comment below – thanks in advance).
and to grab your own Christmas budget printable why not take a look at the Christmas Planner – now is the perfect time to get everything organised, and it comes with a full countdown checklist which means nothing will be forgotten…