Today is the last day of September which means that tomorrow is October first. Soon it will be Halloween, then Thanksgiving and Christmas is right around the corner. Now, I’m sure you all know that these holidays are the same time every year. Yet, every year we all start to panic. We didn’t save as much as we wanted. We didn’t start making gifts in May like we promised ourselves we would (my yarn was shipped today).
It’s not too late to start a plan for the holidays. There are still a lot of things you can do to make sure you don’t have to whip out those credit cards to make the holiday great.
- Make a budget. If you haven’t been saving up all year for this, you need to figure out how much money you can scrape up for all your holiday obligations. Don’t forget Halloween and Thanksgiving. You have to pay for these things too.
- Once you have a budget, make a list of everyone you need to buy gifts for. Don’t forget teachers, babysitters and other people that we tend to forget until the last minute. It’s because of those purchases that you end up over budget. Also jot down some ideas for each person. When out and about, look at your list to see if there is anything on sale that you could pick up early.
- Allocate your budget between everyone on your list. If this seems impossible, maybe you need to have a family meeting at Thanksgiving and propose a secret santa instead of trying to purchase gifts for everyone.
- If it looks like your budget for your kids is out of control, it probably is. I always think it’s funny when people buy gifts for kids and the kids end up playing with the box. I’m not suggesting that you give your kids a box but think of other things you can do instead of spending money. Consider giving the kids your time. Most of us are so busy that the one thing the kids really want is more of mom and dad’s time. Give your kids movie night with mom and dad or bowling night. Make up a cool looking coupon on the computer and wrap it up. Make up a cooking class and give that to your kids. Be creative.
- Make things. Consider taking family photos and framing them with inexpensive frames. Create a family cookbook. Make cookies or candy. I love homemade gifts. They are cost effective but the recipient appreciates the effort you put in.
- Be realistic. Don’t plan to make 800 pairs of mittens between now and Christmas. It’s not going to happen. You’ll stress yourself out and then end up going over budget as you rush to the mall at the last minute.
Start thinking about this now. Start budgeting for this now. Put the cards away and pay cash this year.