Every year it seems that New Year’s resolutions come at the perfect time: we’ve just drained our bank accounts on holiday parties and presents (not to mention those Black Friday deals). Welp, now we have to start the new year in the hole, budgeting our butts off. For once, I would seriously love to get to choose my New Year’s resolution as opposed to being forced into spending plan and an anti-social January. As we’ve discussed, saving money doesn’t always sound sexy, but it sure feels damn good.
So, let’s change this habit. I’ve put together a 6-step plan in order to help you budget this holiday season. Finally enjoy Christmas morning, rather than worrying about expenses.
STEP 1: BUDGETING YOURSELF IN ADVANCE
I know this may seem self-explanatory, but it’s worth a try. Although we should all try and have monthly budgets, I know it’s easy to go over during the holidays. Take a look at your bank account and your income and say, how much should I reasonably be allowed to spend this holiday season?
Some things to consider are:
- What will your income be this holiday season?
- How many gifts are you buying for others?
- Were you planning on buying anything for yourself?
You can also download one of the many budgeting apps (like Mint or Wally) to help keep yourself in check. Feel free to check your spending every day or week to make sure you are sticking to your limits. I know first hand how freaking hard budgeting can be, the trick is to constantly keep yourself in check and updated.
STEP 2: RENT A DRESS FOR THAT OFFICE HOLIDAY PARTY
I’ve already talked about my love of renting clothing (because why spend tons of money on something you are going to wear once?!) and the same rules apply here. Whether you are headed to a sorority function or an office Christmas party, I’m the first to say you the deserve to feel great in a NEW amazing outfit. But, you shouldn’t spend a fortune on it. Likely, if you love to Instagram like me, you might not be wearing this dress for a few months or even another year. I feel like half my dresses I wear once (get an amazing ‘gram, of course) and then never wear again – which is a shame because they are really cute dresses.
That’s why renting, or buying consignment is one of the best things you can do for all your holiday outfit needs.
Here are some places you can rent clothes for the holidays:
STEP 3: DON’T BUY PRESENTS FOR EVERYONE…DO A GIFT EXCHANGE
Something that always bogs me down in my holiday budgeting is wanting to everyone the perfect gift. I love gifting (and the feeling when someone just loves your gift) so I’m happy to go above and beyond with presents. The only problem is, between family, friends and a significant other, gifting can be expensive.
To avoid having to buy gifts for everyone under the sun, do a holiday gift exchange. You can do a White Elephant, Secret Santa, or just a plain old Gift Exchange. I’ve linked directions to each type of gift. This way, you can spend like $25 on one great gift rather than having to buy gifts for everyone. It also gives you an excuse to drink some wine with family and friends.
STEP 4: DIY
If you are left with cooking and getting presents for others, there are so many fun ways you can DIY. Gifts could also be so special if you make them yourself. I always love baked goods as a gift, homemade cards (or even just handwritten cards) or get crafty and make something yourself. I love making creative gift baskets as well – this takes the pressure off a full-on pricey gift, but can be equally as thoughtful.
STEP 5: REGARDLESS OF WHAT YOU BUY, USE PRICE PROTECTION ON YOUR CREDIT CARDS
Many credit cards have a unique feature: If you buy an item and find it at a lower price within a specified time period, the credit card will refund you the difference. Has this ever happened to you? You buy something and realize shortly after that it went on sale or costs less somewhere else? With this trick, you can easily remedy the situation and get refunded. This obviously varies by card, but it’s worth looking into – especially at a time of year where everyone is dying to get your sale.
Want more from a finance expert? Check out this article.
STEP 6: DESPITE STEPS 1-5, DON’T FORGET TO REWARD YOURSELF, EVEN WHEN BUDGETING
Like with any life change, budgeting is hard. I’m not suggesting to necessarily “treat yourself” with a material gift (although if you do – check out this gift guide for yourself!!). I’m just saying to take moments and time to be in the moment in the time of year when a lot of your effort (like budgeting and gifting) is spent towards others. Picture how happy your family or friends will be when they receive your gifts. And most importantly, put yourself first. No one would ever fault you for getting a smaller gift or avoiding spending if it meant the cost of your personal and financial well being.
You need to do you and if that means budgeting your heart out, then do it.
Take this opportunity to decide your own New Years resolution, rather than just being forced into a massive budgeting month. You got this, champ.