Christmas is over. Why am I writing about a Christmas budget in January?? Because it’s necessary. Are you sitting there staring at a pile of credit card bills wondering what in the hell just happened? Are there loads of toys laying around that are collecting dust already that you have no idea how you’re going to pay for them? Or maybe you didn’t go nuts this year, but you didn’t have quite what you wanted to spend this Christmas? Any of these reasons are why you absolutely need a budget NOW!
January can be pretty gloomy. It’s cold. It’s dreary. The decorations are gone and the house looks boring. But January is 10 times worse if you’re in a mountain of debt with no clue what you’re even in debt over. You can’t afford to not think about next December 25th if you’re overwhelmed right now. So what do you do?
Get a Christmas Budget NOW!
First and Most Important Thing!
Pay off the debt. If you accumulated any debt this Christmas, it’s time to move on and get control of it. Often that means some tough love in the form of closing your wallet, staying out of the stores (here’s looking at you Christmas clearance), and vowing not to spend. Add up all the bills. All of them. Make a plan to pay them off. This may take a month or even a few. Figure out what exactly you spent on Christmas this past year.
- Santa pics/family pics
Include every dollar spent if you can. It might be a tough number to see.
Determine a Realistic Budget
Now that you know what you spent, sit down and think about that number. Is it realistic compared to your income? Can you actually afford that number? If you’re staring at credit card statements, the answer is no. It’s not. Or if you’re wondering how you’ll pay the mortgage in January or February, it’s a no. And don’t get down on yourself. This is a time to look back, realize what your limitations are, and move on. That’s why you’re doing this. A “no guilt” Christmas is better and you’ll be prepared for next year.
So pick a number that’s realistic based on all the things you want to buy for or spend money on next year.
Make a Plan
Now that you have your number it’s time to make a plan. Divide that number by however many months are left until Christmas. If it takes you 5 months to pay off this year’s debt, then you have 7 left. Or, if you’re debt free in January, divide it by 12. BUT – If your monthly number is more than you can feasibly save each month, your goal is too high.
What can you do to cut it down? Skip the new decorations, eat out less, don’t buy a new outfit for every party? Choose your priorities. Let’s say your number is $1000 for simplicity. You need to save $83 a month for 12 months. If you’re in debt from this year, that number will be higher. Get your number and start a savings account that’s only for Christmas. Nothing else. Each month or week, depending on your paychecks, send that money straight to the account.
Ideas for a Christmas Budget based on 12 months of savings:
|$500 Budget||$42 per month||$10 per week|
|$1000 Budget||$83 per month||$20 per week|
|$1500 Budget||$125 per month||$29 per week|
|$2000 Budget||$166 per month||$39 per week|
And remember what’s important. Even if you have kiddos at home, they will be fine if you cut back. I promise. I’ve done it even with small kids. They will be perfectly fine. Especially little tiny kids. They don’t know or care what you spend!
Maybe you and your spouse skip the gift giving and take a budget date night instead. Or if you have a large family, try drawing names instead of buying for everyone. If you’re in major debt every year after Christmas comes, it’s time to get control. It’s not worth the stress and headache that follows in January if you’re overwhelmed trying to figure out how to pay for it. Being in debt rarely brings anyone joy. And Christmas is supposed to be full of joy and peace. Don’t miss out by not having a Christmas budget that works for you and your family.
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For more budgeting help – check out these 10 budget tips to help get control of your finances! Or check out one of my favorite budgeting and finance books that changed my entire thinking when it comes to money!