Americans spend roughly $730.2 Billion (yes that was Billion with a B) on Christmas, and the average family spends over $1,000 extra on gift giving. I don’t know about you but Corona has done a number on our finances already this year (amen, anyone?)
It’s easy to think about the now, the joy, the giving, the decor, the ornaments, Christmas cards, treats, and spirit. But what about January? How will you feel when the credit card bill comes or you find that gift broken and stashed under a bed in a few weeks?
Not trying to be a Debbie Downer over here but sometimes it helps to be reminded of these things when we’re caught up in the moment. So, how can this blog help you create your Christmas budget (with some creativity) so that in a few weeks you’re not feeling all the guilt of going a smidge overboard?
I’m so glad you asked!
This week on the podcast I got to sit down with Sami Womack from A Sunny Side Up Life and hear more of her amazing story. Going from $490,000 in debt to debt free in 4 years! We both share a love for Dave Ramsey and living life wisely when it comes to spending and budgeting. She has so many resources on her website and in this podcast episode that can help you this Christmas season and beyond.
Let’s go deeper into budgeting ( not just around the holidays), but all the time. Yes, budgeting now, in the thick of it is SO helpful and necessary but keeping a budget year round is where your money’s at (see that pun!).
What’s a Good Budget for Christams?
To answer this question, “What’s a good Budget for Christmas?” we need to first assess your family’s finances for the whole year. Now if you’re like me you only know your take home, after taxes. It pains me to see the before and so when we do our budget meetings I don’t even consider before taxes income. This is just how I do ‘business’ in our family.
The average American household makes around $50,000 a year and that family was recorded at spending an average Christmas budget of $800 for Christmas. So, you can do simple math here. If you’re bringing in double or half that yearly income you can double or half the average spending for Christmas and have a good place to start.
Since this is just an average of the average Americans spending habits, let’s look at setting a good Christmas budget on a deeper and more personal level. It’s smart for you to make a budget that works for your family and has meaning instead of just using averages.
Know Where You’re Headed
When it comes to setting a good Christmas budget, it’s hard to think past December 25th. But when you have a clean and clear view of where you’re going in the future your perspective can help when it comes to numbers.
In the podcast episode this week Sami goes into more detail when it comes to planning for where you want to go versus just floating along. A great exercise to do when you’re mapping out your finances and making choices on budgets is to have long term spending in mind. Here are a few great questions to get you started thinking about the future (and not just unwrapping gifts, but long term) are:
- What dreams do you have?
- Is there a vacation you want to take?
- What easy debit could you focus on getting rid of (hey credit card, I see you)?
- What season is coming up next, will your kids need bigger clothes?
- Are you house shopping?
- Are you car shopping?
Just simply keeping these future milestones in the front of your mind will help you determine what sort of budget is right for your family.
Get Creative with Short Term Sacrifices
Don’t skip over this!!! I know that title is not appealing but this is where your story get’s good. In the podcast this week Sami brings in the details of when her family was working on snowballing their debt. A house downsize, selling possessions and sacrificing for the now to make a bigger difference down the road.
For example, after downsizing their family house (you need to hear about this, make sure you listen in, it’s pretty impressive) their kitchen didn’t have a dishwasher. For years Sami hand washed dishes. This simple act reminded her on the daily to bring her mind back to focus. Their goal in life right now was saving and spending their money wisely.
I love this creative way to sacrifice on the short term to make a bigger difference down the road so much!
Christmas Budgeting and Gift Buying
When it comes to Christmas budgeting and gift buying remember you are the one in control of your mindset, and keeping your heart in the right place. Us mama’s can get carried away (perhaps that’s an understatement) when it comes to giving to our children. Then add on top of that gifts for extended family and friends.
Try to steer clear of social media – it can tend to make you want to spend more, I see you Instagram mantle! Are you willing to change your family’s future (debt) over a few instagram stories and photos? This could be subconscious, and we work hard to make things pretty and we’re proud of our homes but consider who you’re buying for.
Take just a moment before you step out to go shopping or tap your “buy now” option on Amazon to get mindful about your spending and giving.
Just because it’s always been done like this in your family does not mean that’s what makes Christmas.
If you didn’t get to do it the way you wanted to do it last year, you have the ability to do it differently this year and to set it up as an intention to do it better and different.
Ways to Save Money on Christmas
Not only can you save for Christmas but you can also save during Christmas. Sami talks on the podcast this week about a sinking fund. I wasn’t too sure what this was and so I had her go into more detail on The Unhurried Life podcast.
It’s always a mind game when it comes to looking for ways to save money. The way I see it, you can look at it as a task or you can look at it as a project. Tasks just have to be done where projects give you room for creativity and a challenge even. Let’s keep the mindset of creative, fun, project!
What is a Sinking Fund?
This is a great way to start saving for Christmas (or any event coming up in your life) ahead of time. Planning ahead of time means you have a plan and when you have a plan you have a purpose. Love that!
Every month set aside $100 so you have $1200 for Christmas. You’re sinking money into it slowly so it’s there when you need it. If you may have already missed this chance, be prepared to do it differently next year. Give yourself some grace if you missed starting this already. Here was a great question and tip that Sami asked on the podcast (I know it seems strange this time of year) but are there some things you could return now? Maybe you got carried away or you’re looking at the piles of gifts and realizing you went a tad overboard on the stocking stuffers. It’s fine to plan one more day of getting out and “reverse shopping!”
How to Create a Christmas Budget?
Let’s start with simply keeping track of your spending. I found myself, this year, clicking ‘buy now’ on Amazon without even tracking. I got a few packages and actually forgot that I had ordered it. In my defense, 2 day shipping has turned to 8 now that we live in the country and, well, Corona! So, I started keeping a check list note in my phone.
If you haven’t discovered checklist notes these are the best thing ever! In my phone I can add a little bubble next to a line of text in the Notes App and check it off. I created a note with my kids and hubby and the things I was planning to get them. Then I added at the end the amount I spent once I had purchased it and checked it off!
Yikes, I was surprised at how quickly I was reaching my limit. But how do you create a budget for your little ones and teach them that it’s far better to give than to receive? Sami addressed this in the podcast episode this week.
Buying gifts for each other: Kid to Kid –
Try giving each of them $10, they get to pick who’s taking them shopping and then head to the Dollar Tree or Walmart. With multiple kids try picking “Secret” Santa style for who gets who and not buying for all the siblings.
Seeing their sibling open a gift they picked is so exciting.
Buying gifts for friends –
This is always homemade where I come from. A good budget for this is to calculate how much it would cost to buy ingredients for toffee (cause toffee can be put in a baggie and easily passed out whenever and wherever).
Buying gifts for your spouse –
This seems like it could be the easiest one to budget for, but if you’re like me buying for your husband is so hard! Not only does he tell me every year, “I don’t need anything” he’s also one of the most minimalistic people on this earth. And yes, husband, I know you don’t need anything but I’m a girl and I just want to give you something you DON’T need but would enjoy!
Rather this is the right way to do gifts for your spouse or not, it’s what I do so take it or leave it. We get something we’ve been talking about for a while.
For example, “it would be nice to have a hammock” said casually in August, written down in my journal and considered for the next few months.
We try not to go over our budget price and typically I tell his best guy friend to check and make sure it’s a decent gift. But most importantly when it comes to a budget for gifts with your husband stay with in the budget. That in itself is a gift to guys!
Christmas Gifts For Kids on a Budget
Just because it’s always been done this way doesn’t mean you have to keep doing it this way. To get out of a tradition that is costing you money and you may not fully know why you’re still doing a $10 Secret Santa with the WHOLE family is …
You’re kids are young enough that you can drop it like it’s hot now and be done.
They’re old enough to explain budgeting, money and the real reason behind Chrismas.
I you’re wondering how to explain a change in “family tradition” with your family, remember you don’t really need a reason to explain your personal finances and that 2020 has been a challenge on us all. This is a great year to start a new (freer) family tradition that omits the frivolous spending.
You can also pick a cute rule to follow like:
The 4 Gift Rule – Something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read.
The 3 Gift Rule – Jesus only got 3 and so do you.
Or create your own “rule”.
Remember it’s safe to say we’re starting a new tradition this year. Don’t be afraid to change, you’re doing what’s best for you and your family.
Christmas Self Care: Treat Yo Self
Let’s not forget how to budget for one of the most important and most overlooked people on the list! YOU! Selfcare for mom, we set the tone for our family and for the day. Sometimes selfcare could look like spending a little bit of money on yourself. Get rid of the martyr mentality.
Try this, have a little fun money – $5 for coffee or a lunch with girlfriends. You can also do free things when it comes to self love and self care like just going for a walk to look at lights in the evening.
Moms are so amazing in that our minds always (first) go to taking care of everyone else but I want to remind you of the airplane oxygen mask analogy. You have to first take care of yourself before assisting the little ones next to you, or you will PASS OUT!
Christmas on a Budget: 4 Simple Tips to Spend Wisely
When It comes to creating your Christmas budget you don’t need to get fancy. Here are 5 simple tips to keep your budget in check and prevent January credit card guilt. Because this season is about more than the 15 minutes of tearing off the wrapping paper.
- Keep a note in your phone with amounts you’ve spent
- Create a Sinking Fund to save money throughout the year
- Be mindful before you buy (or scroll Insta!)
- Create a Gift “rule” for your family
Now make sure you tune into the Unhurried Life this week with Sami, budgeting is not just for Christmas. This sort of life and lifestyle is done year round so you’re not like a kid in a candy store come Black Friday!
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