Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas Budget

Christmas Budget

As parents we spend hours shopping for the perfect Christmas gifts. With 5 children we have to plan well to not overspend at Christmas. I am going to share with you some rules I try to use to stay within our Christmas budget and still have a magical Christmas morning.

10 Rules for Staying on your Christmas Budget 

1. Know your budget and stick to it. If you only have $1000 set aside, planning to spend $3000 is NOT a budget. Don’t forget to include money for the extras like baking, travel, Christmas cards etc… they can add up.  If you don’t have as much as you want, decide which expenses are most important to your family, cut those that aren’t, or find other areas to save money this month. You can plan to save more for next year but at this point you only have what is there already to spend.  

2. Santa does not have to spend evenly. I have the same number of gifts for each child to open on Christmas morning, but rarely spend the same amount. I start my plan with an equal budget for each and work from there.  If you want to spend $250 on an X-box for your 13 year old that doesn’t mean you need a $250 gift for your 2 year old. If there is money to borrow from another child’s budget do it. Last year our 2 year olds favorite gift was a $10 set of dishes.  I am not saying gyp the younger kids just don’t make up more expensive things to buy for them. If the best gift for them is $10 take advantage of that. Chances are when your 2 year old is 13 they will get their expensive item and it will likely cost double what it costs now.

3. Shop with a List. It is important to have a list of items you have selected and know about how much they cost. Like grocery shopping, if you don’t have a list you just buy more than you need.   Use your children’s’ list when you make yours. Last year our 8 year old wanted nails, wood glue, and duck tape. Their true wants may be less expensive than you think. When they’re not, don’t be afraid to guide them to other options, or just ask again next week it’ll change. Many times kids just want big items because they saw them on TV that morning.

4. Buy used. There’s nothing wrong with shopping on Craig’s List, at second hand stores and garages sales. Sometimes you can find those bigger items in great condition for half the price!

5. Use sales and coupons appropriately.  

  •  If an item is not on your list don’t buy it just because you have a coupon. The $5 you saved on the $20 item, added $15 you didn’t budget for.
  •  Sometimes the sale price at Kohl’s or Toys R Us is still more than regular price at Wal-Mart.
  •  If an item goes on sale a week or two after you have bought it, many stores will refund the difference; just bring them your receipt.
  •  Don’t waste $2 in gas to drive across town to save $1.
  • Kohl’s cash and reward gift cards are awesome, but only if the things you bought to get them were on your list, otherwise what you spent is likely more than what you will get for “free” next week.

6. Don’t buy extras.  If you’re having trouble staying within your budget resist the urge to throw those unplanned items in your cart. This applies to those just because items you buy each year. The kids will not miss the traditional socks and underwear under the tree. If they don’t need them, don’t buy them. If they ask for them that’s a different story. Nike Elite socks are on many want lists.

7. You don’t have to buy everything on your kids’ lists!  Don’t let that parent guilt take over.  It is OK for kids to not get everything they want. Pick the items you know they really want or need.  Eliminate those items that will quickly move to the back of the closet after Christmas morning.  Fill in the remaining gifts with items they will enjoy and will allow you to stay within your budget.    

8.  Spend less on Adults. My husband and I shop minimally for each other, Santa fills our stockings and we help the kids pick a gift to buy for each other. Many times they have homemade gifts ready, coupon books are my favorite. Suggest a gift exchanges for other adults you buy for in your family.  

9. Pass gift ideas on to others.  Family members are always asking for ideas to buy for the kids. They enjoy getting something the kids really want just as much as you do.

10. Lay it all out!  Sometimes you don’t realize how MUCH you have until it is all together. I do this midway and again at the end to see if I need anything more or if I have too much. If you have too much, most the time I do, return the least favorite gift or two for each kid.  Several items are eliminated each time I do this. This rule can counteract breaking rules 1-9. Trust me you will break many, I already have this year.

Just remember the best Christmas memories aren’t of the amount of money that was spent. It’s the time spent with family and friends that will stay in your children’s minds forever. Spend more time this Christmas and less money. Even on a budget you will find there is plenty under the tree to see smiling faces on Christmas morning, and not have to pay for it for the next 6 months.  Happy Shopping!

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