It’s one of the most expensive times of year and it is only now 4 months until December, and so far this year has flown by, so no doubt the day well be here sooner than we would like to think.

We’ll often find ourselves spending way more than we had planned. That’s why it’s important to prepare early and avoid financial stress & stress in general from having to rush around at the last minute.

Dave Ramsey says it perfectly. "Why are we stressed financially at Christmas when we have all year to plan for it? We know it’s coming!" 

1. Start setting money aside now

Think about what you would normally spend around the holidays, or how much you can afford this year. Then take a specified amount of money each week from your paycheck, to put in a cash envelope or open up a separate Christmas account, add this figure into your Budget and make the necessary adjustments to make the figures balance. You want the exact number so you can plan accurately.

 2. When you start your budget, it’s important to factor in every expense. Know what it will cost. Consider these questions:

  • Are you travelling over the Christmas period, transport costs or extra petrol needed?
  • Do you have kids - have you factored in activities for them over the school holidays?
  • Will you be buying any new Christmas decorations, if so what are they?
  • Are you sending Christmas cards to family and friends?
  • Will you make any donations to charities at Christmas time?
  • What are your mortgage repayments or rent and bills over this period of time, vital if you are self-employed and have no income for a few weeks or taking unpaid leave over this time?
  • How many gifts are you going to buy, who will you be buying for, ask yourself, do you need to buy for everyone on the list?
  • Activities over, this time, movies, entertainment, Christmas parties, meals out?

 3. Tips for Christmas Expenses

  • If you’re hosting a big lunch or dinner, perhaps you could ask guests to bring a plate (or their own drinks) and save on catering costs, or doing it all yourself as this can be a huge expense.
  • What are some free activities to entertain the kids?
  • Make a menu plan, and stock up when items are on sale
  •  If you find a good deal, count the retail price, not the discount.

What exactly do I mean by this? Let’s say you find an $16.00 doll for your niece, marked down from $26.00, and you normally spend $20 on her. Don’t go looking for another $4.00 to spend to make up the difference.

  • Consider making homemade gifts. Homemade gifts are a great way to save money
  • Christmas really isn’t about all the presents, and if you really want to make a difference in your budget. So if you have a large extended family that keeps growing, consider talking about eliminating gifts all together, or buying a gift for each family unit with a set amount, rather than individually, or put all your family members names in a hat and each person draws out one name and buys for just them with a set amount.
  • Limit the amount of Christmas cards you send or send an email newsletter to your friends and family. With services like Mail Chimp, you can still send something really personal, add pictures, and write a small {or long!} greeting. And you can still send mail to Grandma if you need to.
  • If you find you are short on money after doing this. Figure out ways to bring in extra income, sell things, and can you do some extra hours at work?
  • Start shopping now instead of waiting until the last minute. If you have your spending budget, there is no reason to wait until a better sale comes along (unless you know one is coming for sure). Being stressed around the holidays is the exact opposite of what you want!

If you create your holiday budget and plan ahead and stick to it, buying gifts and preparing for Christmas should be a joy.

What are you doing to plan ahead for the holidays? Do you have any tips to add on how to prepare financially for Christmas?