It’s the most wonderful time of year – Christmas and Holiday Prepping Season!
With Halloween over, the Holiday Season has now officially begun! And if you are anything like the stores, some of you may be getting your Christmas tree out this week. Now, I am a “let the bird have its day” kind of girl, and I have the decorative hand towels to prove it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be proactive with Christmas this early.
Holiday Prep Season – September & October
As much as I hate to admit it (as stated above, I like to give Thanksgiving its day), if you start thinking about Christmas in September and October, you are actually setting yourself up for a less stressful holiday season.
I know it may seem like we are rushing our days, but as I tell many of my coaching clients, one of the best ways to stay on track with your budget is to be proactive rather than reactive with your dollars. By laying out who you need to purchase gifts for this holiday season and outlining how much you want to spend on each person, you can better spread out the money spent so it is not all hitting at once.
Lay it all out
Chief Operating Officer Amanda Sharratt recently did a Question of the Week video on this topic and helped lay out how to tackle a way to organize this list collectively. She suggests creating a spreadsheet (or emailing us to send you our Holiday Spending Template!) that lists all family and friends you need to purchase items for and the associated dollar amount. The spreadsheet even includes columns for ideas to get them, notes for when you bought them an item and a place to say when they are “check mark – done!”. This spreadsheet can be a one-place stop for all your holiday gifting organization, allowing you ease for “checkin’ it twice.”
Game plan how to spread it out
Ideally, once you get comfortable with this system and start working ahead to detail out the “who and how much” for each year, you can begin working towards creating a sinking fund. This will allow you to save for these purchases all year long with a small amount being put aside each month, so the cost of the holidays doesn’t fall on just the last few months of the year.
Even if you have not started a sinking fund yet, putting some money aside now will help take the burden off your shoulders come December with costs.
Search sales and discounts
Take advantage of the holiday sales or “special event day” discounts many businesses are putting out in the very fast-approaching days. Scope out these deals and see how they can benefit you by checking items or loved ones off your Christmas list. However, my disclaimer is, don’t buy just to buy because “it’s a good deal” or “on-sale.” This is an impulse purchase and exactly what the marketing teams and businesses hope for from you.
Another thing I say to my coaching clients is to be intentional with your spending. The same can be said about your gifting.
Remember, no one needs just “stuff.” So, when thinking through your gifting options or ideas for someone, try to think through what this person enjoys. Perhaps it is not an item at all. Maybe it is an experience of some sort (things that come to mind are theater tickets, art classes, cooking classes, and sporting events, to name a few). Memberships to splash parks, zoos, or other museums are great ideas for young children as these are gifts they can enjoy with their families all year. And lastly, one of my recent favorites as an adult is a gift card!
Homemade comes from the heart
Amanda mentions about the thoughtfulness of handmade gifts. And I could not agree more with her on this! Do not undervalue this gift idea! I spoke to someone recently who went to one of those painting pottery places with their children as a fun day activity. They each picked out one item for their grandparent and painted it specifically for them to give as their Christmas present. What a fun idea! Not only are they having a memorable day with their children, but they are also helping with their Christmas shopping list.
Budgeting for additional costs, such as the holidays, can be stressful. Especially when monthly expenses seem stressful enough already. By planning out upcoming purchases, having a game plan, and capping your holiday spending, hopefully, you can eliminate more stress than needed this holiday season. Our financial coach helps create budgets that fit your lifestyle and helps you plan for upcoming expenses, like the holidays. If you are interested in learning more about budgeting or want to talk to our financial coach about being more proactive with your holiday planning, reach out and schedule a meeting today!