Not to scare you or anything, but for the frugal minded, it’s time to start thinking about Christmas.
As of today, it’s 90 days until Christmas. 73 days until Chanukah. 92 days until Kwanzaa. 86 days until Winter Solstice.
That’s right-the holidays are approaching. If you don’t want to have your bank account screaming in agony when the January credit card bills come due, here are a few things to consider:
1. What is your budget going to be for Christmas?
If you think about and plan it now you will be better able to resist excessive spending later. I know I tend to go into a last minute gift buying fervor if I’m not careful. . .
2. Who are you going to be buying for?
Especially with the tight economy, you should really consider who you are giving gifts to this year. It may be the year to stop exchanging gifts with family friends, or to stop buying for 37 nieces and nephews. Now is the time to take a really hard look at things and have those akward conversations with family and friends BEFORE they go out and spend money on gifts for you or your kids. Who knows, maybe everyone will breath a sigh of relief at the idea of not having to spend so much time, energy and money buying gifts.
3. Are you going to be making any gifts?
Seriously folks-if you are crafty and planning on making some of your gifts, now is the time to start. You DO NOT want to be up all night frantically crafting in December while dealing with all the other holiday related chaos. Working slowly over time is a MUCH better idea.
4. Can you spread out your costs?
If you know who you are buying for and how much you want to spend, maybe you can spread the actual purchases out over several pay periods to make them less painful–and to make December less stressful! You can either make purchases a few at a time, or you can use something like layaway (which many stores including Walmart have brought back) to buy larger items over time.
5. Can you buy it on sale?
Again, knowing who you are buying for and how much you want to spend means you can take advantage of sales between now and the holidays. Keep your eyes peeled and take advantage not only of sales but of price guarantees and price matching at various stores. Don’t forget to look online as well–you can find great deals online and many sites have free or reduced shipping as we head into the holiday shopping season.
6. What other, non gift related expenses do you need to think about?
Let’s not forget, presents aren’t the only expense to consider for the holiday. Do you travel to visit family? Do you typically host a big meal or throw a party? Do you buy teacher gifts (I try not to). Do you buy & send holiday cards? Do you make charitable donations, sponsor a family, give food to the food bank? Do you have to replace/add to your decorations? Take some time now to think about these additional obligations and their associated costs–then either budget for them or get out of them!
Those are the questions that I’m asking myself and looking to answer in the next week or so. I need to set my own budget and discuss the gift giving situation with my siblings. . .
What are you guys thinking? Is Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate) going to be a bit different this year?