Enjoying the year-end holidays like Kwanza, Hanukkah and Christmas, which involve gift giving and celebrations, need not bust the family budget. There are a number of websites and tools available that will help keep holiday spending on track with established budgets or help create a specific holiday spending plan. A simple search engine search using terms like “holiday budgeting” will bring up many options.
All of the tools and sites that I recently reviewed seem to focus on a few core budgeting principles, such as establishing a spending plan based on available funds, identify on whom or what to spend it and be ready to adjust if overspending occurs. One site even suggested creating a spreadsheet (one was offered through a hyperlink) that looked to be really helpful. The specific steps might be something like this:
1. List the people you wish to gift
2. Determine how much you can afford to spend in total
3. Divide this amount among the people on the list
4. Brainstorm gift ideas that will fit that per item budgeted amount
5. Keep track of spending throughout the season
6. Adjust where needed if overspending occurs
It would be a simple modification to this approach to also add in any celebrations and travel spending as well – listing each event and determine how much can be spent on it, and so on. Budgeting ahead of time in this manner is a good way to stay on track with normal monthly cash flows and avoid excessive holiday spending that could put a damper on the New Year when all the bills come due!
For more long-term budgeting ideas and guidance, here are a few suggestions from Naperville Public Library's collection. Just click on the cover of one of these titles to see it listed in our catalog and if it is available for check out.