It is that time of year where many of us start to think about holiday gifts for friends and family members. Of course, there is the uber-prepared group of people that already have their shopping done. Congrats to you if you fall into that category! I am not one of those people.
Not only do the holidays cost more because of gifts we buy for others; they also cost more because of events we go to and/or host. So, when we think about a holiday budget, we need to think about people AND events.
First, I am going to sit down and make my list of people we want to give gifts to. Notice that word – “give” instead of “buy.” The holidays don’t need to be a big financial burden.
Second, I will determine who I can “give” a gift to that will not cost money, or very much money. What might that gift be? Here are some ideas:
- Gift an item you own that you no longer use or need
o Kitchen gadget
o Coffee mug
o Picture frame
- Gift your time
o Instead of going to a coffee shop, do an afternoon of tea or coffee at your house; Same for happy hour
o Go for a walk together
o Play a game together – pull out an old board game from your closet, or a deck of cards, or Yahtzee
o Watch a movie together with home-made popcorn
o Enjoy a meal together – you’re already making the meal
- Write a personal, hand-written note and put a picture of you together inside the note
- Is there something you can make that will cost less money? Last year we made bottles of pillow spray and foot lotion using essential oils.
- “Free” gift cards – Most credit cards earn points that you can use in various ways. Use those points to get gift cards for friends and family. Note: Do NOT spend money using your credit card just to get points!!
Third, I will put dollar figures next to the people I know I will spend money on. I need to factor in any shipping costs for people that live in other states. Those shipping costs always add up!
Fourth, I will list events that I know happen every year and will assign a dollar amount next to each of these events. This could be a party that we host that costs money, as well as when we go somewhere and take something (like a bottle of wine) or go out for a special meal out. Keep in mind, when you host an event, there is nothing wrong with potluck so it doesn’t cost as much to you.
Fifth, I will determine a dollar amount for unexpected events that come up.
Another way to tackle this is to know what your total dollar amount is before you make your people and event lists and then start to split that up.
Either way, after a first pass through, what does this look like? Can I afford the total dollar amount? If not, I will go back through the list making adjustments until I get to a number I can afford. Most importantly, the total dollar amount needs to be a number that doesn’t cause stress!
Something else to consider for 2017, if you don’t already do this, is to set some money aside each month for the holidays. We have a special savings account that we put $25 into every month. Is this going to be enough? I don’t know yet…although I will know soon. Even if it isn’t enough, it still takes the bite out of having to come up with ALL our holiday money in November and December.
What are your tips for saving money on holiday gifts and events?
Bankrate – 7 Ways to Stick to Your Holiday Budget
Dave Ramsey – 12 Ways to be Kind Without Spending Money
Mother Nature Network – 10 Ways to Give Without Buying Stuff
Real Simple – How Do You Stay on a Budget During the Holidays? Readers offer Ideas