Tis the season for holiday shopping which means you should also have a holiday budget. Learn how to set one, and prepare your kids for this valuable life skills do. This is just one of the 12 skills of Christmas!
Most families do not have an unlimited source of money. In fact, most live on a budget. Some may even be like us and live on a tight budget.
Most of the year we know our budget and live quite easily by it. But it’s another story when the holidays approach. Things get even tighter than they already are.
Several years ago adopted a less-is-more philosophy. We keep gifts to a $5 limit between us and our children. The first couple of years it was a rough transition, but now it has become a beloved tradition among our family. My kids even start asking about when they can draw names and go shopping around mid-October.
However, buying for the rest of the family – grandparents, parents, nieces, nephews, siblings – requires definite planning and budgeting. But every year I sit down and create our holiday budget.
Whether its your first time creating a holiday budget or you just need to tweak things a bit, here are some things to consider and simple steps to follow.
- Your income
- Number of gifts to buy
- Ages of children (older children might cost more)
- Family convictions and beliefs
- Keeping things “even” among siblings/cousins
- Family gifts vs. Individual gifts
Steps to Create Your Holiday Budget
- Set a maximum spending limit. This is vital to keep you on budget. In fact, I suggest setting both a total max budget and an individual max budget (either individually or by family). Setting an individual budget will help keep things “even,” if that matters.If you’re buying individual gifts, simply take your total budget and divide it by the number of total gifts. I recommend creating a spreadsheet to keep track of your budget, expenses, purchases, and tracking numbers.Also keep in mind the ages of the children for which you are purchasing. Younger children’s gifts tend to be less expensive than those for a teenager.
- Create your wish/buy list. It doesn’t hurt to dream. Go ahead and create your wish list for items you know the recipient would love (even if they’re not in budget). Then you can begin to narrow it down the closer it gets or watch for sales just in case! And the wish list is a great starting point for other ideas that may be less expensive and fit the budget.When creating your list, keep in mind the family convictions and beliefs. While our children have “phones”, they are only used for games. They do not have data plans or access to wi-fi unless we give it to them, so a Google Play gift card is not something we would necessarily want them to have. Non-toy gifts are growing in popularity, so don’t be afraid to think outside the box either!As families grow larger, it may be easier to buy family gifts, rather than individual ones. These can be anything from a new game for family night to a seasonal zoo/aquarium pass, or anything in between!
- Search both online and in stores for the best deal. With 6 kids, I am a big online shopper. However, if you watch local sales fliers, you might just catch a better deal right in your own town and save on shipping!
- Order in bulk to save on shipping. If you’re going to order online, try to order in bulk to save on shipping costs. You can even do this in several different orders, if necessary. If you do order online, make sure you pay attention for hidden shipping costs.
- Think ahead to next year for BIG savings. I know this might not help this year, but if you have it in the budget, think ahead to next year and shop the after-Christmas sales. This is a great way to pick up some amazing gifts at a fraction of the cost.
Setting and keeping a holiday budget doesn’t need to be overwhelming or stressful. It can actually be freeing. It is a wonderful feeling to know that you were able to buy gifts your friends and family will love without going in to debt!
Annette has been married to her husband and best friend since 2003. Together they are raising their six children to follow the Lord’s will, no matter what. Annette longs for the day when she will meet her 9 angel babies who have entered heaven before her. She enjoys creating fun and engaging printables, unit studies and curriculum for homeschool families. You can follow her crazy life at In All You Do where she blogs about marriage, parenting, and homeschooling all while maintaining her sanity. She is also the owner of Thrifty Homeschoolers, where she shares free printables and resources from around the web as well as deals on curriculum and homeschooling resources. You can also keep up with her via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.