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Budgeting for the Holidays Late, Again

holiday budget, holiday budgeting, budgeting for the holidays
I didn’t want it to happen again this year, but it did. This year was supposed to be the one where we started saving for Christmas early so by the time November flipped on the calendar we had a wad of cash saved up to buy gifts for our son, each other, and various friends and relatives.

Unfortunately, didn’t turn out that way.

In past years, we would just take our weekend discretionary funds and go shopping, collecting some gifts each weekend from Thanksgiving right up to December 25th.You can imagine that sort of system doesn’t always work out very well. Not knowing exactly how much money we’ll have available for gifts, and no clear plan as to what we’re buying is a recipe for failure.

We wanted this year to be different, but here we are in mid-November with no dedicated Christmas fund.

Last weekend, my wife and I sat down determined to have a marathon budget discussion to come up with a spending plan from now until Christmas in order to determine exactly how much we’d have to spend on holiday activities.

  1. We normally do a bi-monthly budget, but for this activity we agreed to do the next three budget cycles which extends to December 31st.
  2. We agreed to a reduced entertainment budget for the remainder of the year, using that money to create our Christmas present fund.
  3. We went over our expenses countless times to make sure there would be nothing popping up that we should have been able to anticipate.
  4. Once we had a total amount, we could set amounts to spent on each other, our son, and external family members.

The good news is that we have a plan in place to accomplish our gift giving goals for the the holiday season. The bad news is that we have to be extremely disciplined to stick to our game plan. Any overspending will require us to rebuild the entire plan.

Maybe this will be the year we learn the lesson that we need to start sooner.

When do you start saving for Christmas gifts? Are you in good shape this year, or are you scrambling like we are?

Brought to you courtesy of Brock

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  • We’re in ok shape. I shop year-round, intensifying a bit in the final quarter of the year. I do almost everything online, have it delivered to my office if it’s for my son, and home if it’s for my husband, or extended family. My husband works on commission, so if I left it till the end of the year we’d be in big trouble, not knowing what his pay will be through the season. Mine is small, but constant and therefore easier to budget.

  • Every January hubby and I decide how much to spend for Christmas that year and we make 12 monthly deposits to that account. We do a lot of online shopping which of course means we use our credit card, but the money is there in December waiting for the bill to arrive. This year we did so well with investments that hubby declared we can spend more than originally planned!

  • @James – that would be a GREAT plan…and every year that ‘s what we aim to do. Then we promptly forget about it and BAM it’s November again. The only problem I see with being on the lookout for gifts throughout the year is that there’s the danger (especially with kids) that they may end up getting the item before Christmas, or decide they don’t want it any more. But I can see how that would work to an extent. I’d be happy with being able to save up a Holiday gift fund throughout the whole year, and then be ready to hit the stores when the Holiday season rolls around. Thanks for dropping by!

  • @Kathy – Wow, I’m impressed! After getting through Thanksgiving and the entire December onslaught of family get togethers the last thing I want to think about in January is the NEXT holiday season! Awesome job, and congrats on having a little extra this year – you don’t hear much of that these days. Thanks for reading!

  • Thankfully, we learned from our prior mistakes on this one.

    Last year we set up a christmas fund savings account within our capital 360 (ing direct) account. It has been funding “itself” for the whole year. We don’t have a lot to buy but its been nice it just being there and not having to over-budget for November and December. My sugg…set that up to auto-deposit starting January 1st, 2014. Even if it’s just $10/week it’s something.

    The Warrior

  • I haven’t started buying yet, but I hope to soon. Last year I waited until the last minute and it ended up costing me quite a bit more with shipping fees.

    We may actually not give gifts this year and just go on a trip to New York City.

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