For a lot of people, holiday expenses might be something too early to think about at this point. There are still four months until we reach the last holiday for the year – Christmas holiday. For most, this is the last one before closing the year and starting on a new one. This is the time to show appreciation to a lot of people and even end the year right.
Just like most holidays, it also comes with its own share of expenses. The last thing you need is to just wing it and be left with holiday debt after. That is no way to end the year. Here are some of the things you can do to help you plan for your Christmas expenses as early as now.
Create a budget to manage holiday expenses
As early as now, you can already start putting together your holiday spending budget. This can give you a pretty good idea how much you might be spending for the holidays. The better you can prepare for what lies ahead, the more you can prevent getting into debt during the holidays. This is because there is a big chance that you would simply charge everything on the card. This usually comes with the plan that you will just take care of the bill when it comes. However, this would definitely not be a great start to a new year. There are financial considerations with your holiday shopping that you need to keep in mind.
As a result, it is a good idea to list down all the people that you want to give gifts to start of your holiday budget. Start with your family as well as your extended family and work your way to friends and even your officemates. As you put together the list, try to assign a dollar value to each person in the list. As you do this, you get to create at least a ballpark figure of how much you would need for Christmas gifts.
It is also important to consider the events and parties that would come your way during the holiday. This would add up to your holiday expenses for a number of reasons. For one, you would need to look at the gifts you would bring, how to share with the food if needed and even if you have to travel for such events. You can start by looking at the parties and events you attended the year before. This should give you a pretty good idea on what to expect this year.
Consider having a holiday account
As you get an idea how much you would be needing come December, it would be good to set aside this money early one. The nice thing about planning early is you get to have enough time to save up for it. As you do that, you can have a separate account so you can better track your savings and money.
This can be a pretty straightforward account as you only have a few months to save up. With that in mind, you can just have an envelope at home where you can put the money. You can also set aside one of your accounts as a holiday account. These options can help you separate the money from other expenses so you do not accidentally use them for everyday use.
One other advantage you can get from this is you have a very clear picture of your holiday budget and how you are progressing towards your goal. As you do this, you can make adjustments as you go along. You can either put in a little more effort in saving up or adjust your budget if you are struggling with your goal.
Look for extra money
Adding on another financial goal like your holiday expenses will undoubtedly put additional stress on your finances. As this happens, you need to look for places to get the money. If you have a few extra coming out of your regular income, you might be able to pull this off. However, if you are running an already tight ship, it is best to look for extra money to cover holiday costs.
If you are holding down a regular job, one of the first things that could come to mind would be overtime work. This could mean picking up some extra shifts at work. You can also look into getting a part-time job. It can be something you can do after your regular day job and ideally not too physically demanding.
A side hustle can also be part of the picture and best to be along the line of your interests and hobbies. This is a perfect example of income positive hobbies where you earn while you do something you love. If you love baking or even know how to take great photographs then try doing that over the weekend.
Start cutting down on expenses
One of the best things to do together with increasing income is lowering down your expenses as well. This would come in handy as Gallup shared that December in 2016 had the highest daily spending average since 2008 at $105. You can start by looking at your household budget and putting your expenses under a microscope. As you go through line by line, you could encounter unnecessary expenses you can do without.
You might be paying for music subscriptions that you do not really use regularly. As you go through your list, you might find that you can save a few dollar a month which can help boost the amount you are saving for your holiday expenses.
Figure out what family and friends want
As you have enough time before the actual holidays, you can take a closer look on what your family and friends actually want. Of course, you need to make sure that it is something within your budget. The more time you spend understanding what they like, the more they will appreciate what you give.
Create personalized gifts
One thing that can help you manage holiday expenses is personalizing your gifts for family and friends. Unless you are Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers who gave his linemen personalized ATVs for Christmas according to USAToday, it is best to personalize within budget. It is best if you can make use of your talents and skills to put together the gifts. Take for example your photography hobby – you can offer to take family portraits for your close friends. This is something they can use for their holiday cards. ‘
You can also bake cookies or cakes for your family and friends for the holidays. If you have a talent in drawing or painting, you can make portraits for your family and friends for the holidays as a gift. The important thing is you get to schedule them ahead of time so you are not rushing your artwork
Be on the lookout for sale opportunities
One of the advantages of starting with your holiday plans early on is that you can take advantage of sale promotions to start your gift buying. Of course, you need to have a list on hand so you know the people whom you will be giving gifts to. As you slowly start buying or creating gifts for family and friends, you can simply check off their names in your list. This gives you the chance to start taking advantage of sale promotions early on.
Holiday expenses will always be part of Christmas and you just need to plan for it early so you can manage the cost.