Christmas – especially in 2020 – is uncertain.
Many have lost jobs or find themselves second-guessing if (or when) their state will lock down again, possibly leading to shortages at the stores and skyrocketing prices.
Not to mention the fact that the sense of isolation is leaving many of us discouraged and downright depressed.
That’s exactly why 2020 is a pivotal year.
This is the time when you want to set a Christmas budget that will work and learn how to s-t-r-e-t-c-h your gift budget so you can bless everyone on your list with amazing, eye-popping, meaningful gifts – without going into debt.
I’ve got your back!
For over 30 years, my husband and I have lived on an income which has been under the national average. We raised our four sons, debt-free, including paying cash for our current home when our income averaged under $40,000 a year.
We got really good at making the most of every area of our budget – including Christmas.
For those on a tight budget, Christmas can be challenging. It seems that each year, the price of gifts, food, decorating, and entertaining, continues to rise.
You find yourself dashing to the stores on December 23rd, throwing expensive, last minute gifts into your shopping cart, and cringing as you think about how much money you are spending.
I want to assure you that the holidays don’t need to be this way.
Here are three steps that you can take immediately to pave the way to a smooth (and debt-free) holiday season this year.
Step 1. Create a Comprehensive Christmas Budget
One of the largest mistakes I see people make is that they believe that by setting a gift budget, they have a Christmas budget.
Here’s why that doesn’t work.
Christmas includes a great deal more than just gifts. Your budget needs to reflect all of the expenses of the holiday season.
A complete Christmas budget should include:
- Gift Wrap Supplies
- Parties and Special Events
- Food and Drinks
- Cards and Stamps
When you try to take every aspect of the holidays into consideration, it greatly increases your likelihood of successfully paying cash and staying on budget.
Related Content: “6 Quick Ways to Earn Extra Christmas Cash”
Step 2: Create a Prioritized Gift List
When you write your gift list, write the names in order, beginning with those on whom you will spend the most money. Next to each name, include the amount you intend to spend on that individual.
Be sure to total your anticipated gift expenses at the bottom of the page.
Are you comfortable with this amount? Does it fit well within your total Christmas budget? Will you need to spend less on gifts?
When your budget is tight, a prioritized list makes it really easy to evaluate where you can cut back or make adjustments.
Your will also easily be able to scan your list and group people together to receive similar (or the same) gifts. For instance, if you are spending $5 each on teacher appreciation gifts, you can group those people together on your list and make a notation that they will each be getting “homemade cookie mix in a jar“.
Step 3: Create a plan for finding what you need at a price that you can afford
There are a multitude of ways to reduce the cost of gift-giving. I generally use a combination of all of them in order to be able to give a gift to each person on my list.
Group similar people from your prioritized Christmas gift list together. For instance, all of your children’s teachers can receive the same DIY gift. Likewise, anyone on the list who receives the same value gift can be grouped together and given the same gift. By using this strategy, you can save money and leave the bulk of the gift budget for those at the top of your list.
Themed Gift Baskets
When you purchase items on clearance throughout the year for 70-90% off retail prices, it is very easy to make gift basket for under $10 each – including the cost of the basket. Another
Here are helpful suggestions for when and where to look for items for your gift stash.
- “24 Christmas Gifts for $3.00 or Less”
- “Tips for Creating and Maintaining a Gift Stash”
- “6 Inexpensive Gifts that Co-Workers Will Love”
- “8 Great Teacher Appreciation Gifts for $3.00 or Less”
There is no sin in buying lightly used items as gifts. I have found new-in-the-box items at second-hand and thrift stores many times and given them away as gifts. In fact, many in society are now seeing the wisdom of recycling and keeping useful items out of the landfill.
Picture yourself on Christmas Eve. You are kicking back, relaxing, sipping Christmas cheer, listening to the family read aloud from Dickens’, The Christmas Carol. You smile because you know that tomorrow’s dinner is planned, the pies are baked, the gifts are wrapped and sitting under the tree. You have rediscovered Christmas joy, because you paid cash for the holidays this year.
It’s a brand new beginning!