Start Planning Now: Christmas 2009

by Marcy on December 30, 2008 · 1 comment

As I mentioned previously, we are home from our holiday excursions, and I am itching to get back into the swing of things! While are holidays are always hectic because we are out of town and running all over the place, I can’t imagine not spending the holidays with family.

All year I have been trying to think of new ways to simplify my life (I keep chanting “work smarter, not harder!!” in my head…), and my Christmas preparations were no exception. Try as I did, I inevitably ended up stressed out by Christmas Eve. However, I won’t lie…most of my stress was self imposed. My biggest mistake of this holiday season was over buying for my daughter. My lesson learned? Just because you have money set aside for gifts doesn’t mean that you have to spend every last penny! Especially because this year there were deals everywhere…which meant more “stuff” for the money.

I would have been better off to buy my daughter just a few things that she really wanted (not things that I wanted for her!) and to put the rest of her gift budget into her bank account…because as my brother told me, the bank has more room for my money than my house has for all of the toys that I spent that money on!

The point of this post isn’t to share with you how I overindulged my daughter this year, but to share with you one thing that I wasn’t stressed about this holiday season…which (believe it or not!) was money. I was not stressed about money because each year we set aside a certain amount of money to cover all of the Christmas gifts we need to purchase. I also include Christmas cards and postage in this budget because this is the one time each year that I send pictures of my daughter to our extended family and friends. An added bonus this year was that my cupboards were so full from stockpiling all year that I had grocery budget money freed up to spend on baking supplies and holiday extras…which is incentive enough for me to do more of the same in ’09.

I am not sharing this info with you to brag, but rather to let you know that setting aside a small amount of money each week throughout the year is one of the best gifts you can give yourself next Christmas. While I realize that this is not possible for everyone due to other financial goals and obligations, I would encourage those of you who do have a few dollars to spare each week to consider this. If you start saving even $5 per week starting Monday, January 5th, you’ll have $240 saved by December 1st. Up that amount to $10 per week and you’ll have $480. This may not be enough to cover all of your Christmas expenses, but it would be a great start.

Something that I do do help me determine how much that I need to save each year is to create a spreadsheet that lists my anticipated holiday expenses. I have been using the same basic spreadsheet for at least 5 years now, with a few modifications each year based on the names we draw in our gift exchanges etc… This spreadsheet also helps me keep track of gift ideas, who I have purchased for, and what I have left to do before Christmas arrives.

If you need a little help with the discipline part of saving money for Christmas almost one year in advance, check with your bank to see if they offer Christmas Club accounts. This may be an old fashioned way of saving to some, but if a tool like this helps you avoid credit cards bills in January of 2010, I say go for it.

I started my 2009 Christmas budget this week…what about you? Are you on board? Or do you think I’m crazy? :-)

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