It’s that time of year! Time to start saving for the holidays.
I know, I know! You haven’t even paid off this last Christmas yet, so how are you supposed to start saving for next December?
Well, January really is the time to think that through instead of waiting until the second week of December, like normal.
I’m on a super strict budget. I don’t mind – it’s just my financial reality. Because of this, I have focused on budgeting for the expenses that I am going to face every year. The more detailed I am, the better I am able to do the things I want in life, so the envelope system is the perfect way for me to carefully plan for Christmas.
I have three envelopes dedicated to the holidays – one for holiday food, one for family presents, and one for Christmas cards and stamps (they add up quickly!).
During the holiday season, my spending at the grocery store seems astronomical. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner and all the holiday parties in between, I spend a lot of money.
AT CHRISTMAS, THE BEEF TENDERLOIN ALONE COSTS ME A LITTLE OVER $100.
Although it's expensive, we really enjoy the meal, and it's one of the few times during the year when I buy steak.
The easy solution is to put a little bit of money into my envelope during each pay period to pick up the slack. I only put $20 a month into this envelope, so when Christmas comes around, I have an extra $240 in my grocery budget for the holidays. This easily takes care of the tenderloin for Christmas, as well as some of the other items that I prepare throughout the season.
Honestly, it’s not quite enough for everything, but it makes a huge difference for me when there are so many other expenses. I’m probably going to increase it to $30 a month in 2017 so that I have a little more to work with.
The other category goes to Christmas cards and stamps. It may seem silly to budget for this, but by the time I buy cards and cover the postage, I usually spend about $75. I don’t have an extra $75 dollars in my budget in December, so it makes sense for me to save up. I set aside $6 a month for this expense.
Being this detailed with money doesn't work for everyone, but I enjoy the security of knowing that I have saved ahead for almost all of my holiday expenses.
The other envelope goes to presents for my family. We typically draw names, which really keeps expenses low, but I still buy a present for my mom and my children. I like to get each person a nice gift and spend about $100 per person. I usually put about $40 a month into this envelope. If I didn't do this, I wouldn't be able to purchase presents, and it's important to me to remember friends and family during the holidays.
Another advantage to saving throughout the year is that it allows me to buy things ahead of time. If I see a great sale or a clearance item that I know someone on my list will absolutely love, I can go ahead and pick it up because I have the money in my envelope already. This alone has made it possible for me to buy some very nice presents over the years.
By putting a small amount of money into each of these holiday envelopes every pay period throughout the year, I can relax and enjoy the season when December rolls around because I don’t have to worry about the financial aspect – I know I’m covered.
Being on a tight budget doesn’t mean you have to be a Scrooge during the holidays. It just means that you have to start planning in January.