Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Controlling Your Holiday Budget


It is easy to get involved in all the excitement and joy of the holidays and get caught up in the flurry without stopping to take stock of our behaviors. We tend to overeat, under sleep, and way over spend.

Having a holiday budget is the best way to outsmart the overspending chaos. Much of our spending is tied to a combination of emotion and family traditions.

Before things get out of hand, do two things. First, develop a vision of what is really important to you this year. Then decide how much you can spend to make this vision happen. Once you come up with your big total, break it down into categories. Start with the categories that are really important to you and your vision. Is decorating your home a really big part of your vision? Is baking and giving your goodies as gifts a part of your holiday tradition? Is it important that gifts are a big ticket item? Would you like to give gifts that help make memories - like tickets to the Nutcracker?

Decide how much money you want to spend in each area. You may have to play with this as you go along but keep your eye on the big final total. Consider ways to make your budget work for you. If you like to give more expensive gifts for your family, you might arrange a system where you only buy for some of the family. Our family has a tradition among the siblings of only buying for one sibling and their family. We do this on a rotation system where we buy for a different member each year. When our parents were alive, we pooled our money for a big ticket item and then individually bought some small stocking stuffers.

After your budget is determined, really keep track of all expenses. Save all receipts and if there is not a receipt, write the amount on a piece of paper. Keep a running total as you go through the season. This keeps you on track and prevents you from stressing out about cash. Keep your priorities in order.

You'll thank yourself as the New Year rolls in.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

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