Every year people overspend on the holidays. This year, take control of your Christmas spending by creating a holiday-specific budget. Include a realistic amount of money that covers gifts, foods, and decorations. Here is a list of tricks to help stretch your budget.
1. Food for Christmas Dinner and Parties
Image via Flickr by sebrenner
How much can you spend for Christmas dinner? Remember to include enough for dinner, dessert, and drinks.
- A good tip is to throw a potluck and allow your friends to take part in building the meal. People can bring wine or dessert, and you can supply the feast. That can help stretch your budget.
- Another trick is to buy your turkey or ham right after Thanksgiving when they go on sale. In fact, right around Thanksgiving many common ingredients for holiday meals go on sale.
- If your budget is small, consider a loan from an online lender like Prosper or Avant to help you fund your budget. The money you save by purchasing items for Christmas dinner can make the cost of such a loan worthwhile.
2. Presents for Under the Tree
- To help your budget stretch the farthest possible, consider using coupons.
- For friends and acquaintances, give homemade gifts such as a Date Kit. Throw in a bottle of wine, tickets to the movies, and a gift card for Starbucks.
- For something smaller, maybe just a nice bottle of Champagne.
- As you set your budget for presents, consider the value of using coupons. Saving a dollar here and two dollars there adds up to a lot of savings.
- Shop around because many stores price match and if you order something online.
- Take advantage of free shipping and ship items to a local store where you can pick them up without paying shipping.
- The best tip to save money on gifts is not to impulse shop. Just like Santa, make a list and stick to it.
3. Decorations Need not be Expensive
Start a tradition. Every year buy a new ornament. Until your tree fills up with annual decorations, make your own Christmas ornaments.
- A good way to decorate a tree on the cheap is to rediscover some of the old holiday traditions, such as stringing popcorn and cranberries for garland.
- Make a tree from lights. Many people who live in smaller homes and apartments forego the tree and instead make one out of lights. Simply outline a tree-shape on a wall with Christmas lights and then decorate as you wish. Without having to buy a tree — artificial or real. Transfer the money you would spend on a tree to the gift part of your budget.
Once you make your budget and develop your list of Christmas activities, add up the costs and compare them to your budget. That process helps you discover where the cash shortfalls are. Continue to edit your budget until it all balances. A good tip for any budget is to include a little emergency stash just for the unexpected. All of these little tricks help to stretch the budget as far as possible.