The gifts are all opened and Christmas is over and done with. Or is it? Are you stressed and worried about your credit card bills arriving in your mailbox any day now full of Christmas gifts that you charged?
If the days after Christmas are stressful for you, wouldn't it be fun to have next Christmas paid for before you even buy the first gift next year? You could save all year for Christmas gifts and have a cash-only Christmas.
In my family, we treat birthdays and Christmas like it's a monthly expense. In a spreadsheet each year, I calculate how much money that we plan to spend for the entire year on birthdays and Christmas and then I divide it by 12 and have that amount moved into my savings account automatically each month. When I purchase a gift, I make a transfer back into my checking account to pay for the gift (I usually do a transfer back to checking around the 15th and 30th of each month, since I'm only allowed 2 transfers per month).
I want to make sure that I include everything in my budget, since often the "little" things can really add up fast. Some of the items that I account for in my spreadsheet include:
- Determine the number of people I will be purchasing gifts for (both Christmas and birthdays) and multiply by the budgeted amount per person. I usually spend $20 per child (since we have 9 nieces and nephews for both birthday and Christmas presents). We will spend more on our parents and we've agreed as a family not to purchase for adult siblings. We also spend a higher budgeted amount for our immediate family (like hubby, myself, and my 2 boys).
- Budget an amount for Mother's and Father's Day both for our parents and for gifts to each other...from the kids of course :-).
- For Christmas, I budget an amount for helpers gifts (like teachers, tips for hairdressers, etc) as well as for stocking stuffers. I always think that stocking stuffers are little things...but it can quickly add up to about $20 a stocking. I want to make sure that $80 is budgeted.
- If you send out Christmas cards, I budget an amount to print out the picture card, letter and stamps to mail them out.
- Don't forget about birthday party gifts. You need to budget those gifts, too. I try to purchase those presents (and other family gifts) during clearance sales. I pick generic gifts that my kids would enjoy and save them for a birthday party invite.
You can click here to download a Budget Planning printable sheet.