How to Budget for the Holidays, untangled!

The holidays come the same time every year, yet they still seem to sneak up on you. I just can’t believe that it is already the end of the year. Where did the summer go? Either way, once the holidays come around it can become a stressful time of year. For some, the most worrisome holiday-related topics center on finances. I have been trying out different holiday savings tips and budgeting ideas for years now in order to find a system that works best. I don’t have the secret to growing a money tree, but I have put the following financial solutions into place:

Start Saving Early

I know you don’t want to be thinking about December when you are sitting on a beach in July. Starting a small savings fund sooner rather than later can help ease the stress of holiday shopping.

Make (and Stick to) a Budget

With anything, a budget is essential. It is so easy to lose track of your finances when shopping. A cash envelope system works best for me. I keep the receipts and a log of my spending. Once I am out of cash, I am done!

It’s Okay to Say No

“Do you want to pitch in on the holiday gift at work?” “Do you want to do a Yankee Swap?” “Can you make all the desserts for Christmas Eve?” It’s okay to say no, really it is! You and everyone else have a lot going on and cannot commit to everything. You have to pick and choose your battles sometimes. People will understand.

Lessen Your Holiday Gift List

Make a list of everyone you intend to buy a holiday gift for this year. Go through the list and really think about whom you feel as though you “need” to buy for. Can you cut the list in half? What I have tried to do instead of buying a gift is think of an alternative to a gift, such as sharing an experience. Try planning dinner, a play, a movie night, or afternoon in the park once the holidays are over. Spending time with others can be worth more than any gift.

Create Something New Out of Something Old

Let your inner creative side come out and make homemade gifts this year. They have special meaning and could cost less than a retail store item. Take a look at my DIY Shot Glass Candle Holders.

How do you plan for the holidays? Do you have any tips that have worked best?