How To Budget For Christmas
Well, Christmas is right around the corner and I hope my ideas today can help you budget for gifts this year, and every year going forward. Here’s the deal, are you tired of having stuff as much as I am? Let me define stuff. To me, it is stuff if we want something but may not really need it. Does that make sense?
Here I am today going through my stuff and selling it on a Facebook Marketplace shop. I want to simplify my life. This means getting rid of stuff I don’t need or even want now at my age. I remember my mom in her older years saying to each daughter, “Is there anything in the house you would like?” Looking back, I am sure I hurt her feelings when I said, “Mom I have so much stuff at my house already.”
Now, at my age I get it. At our last Thanksgiving get-together here at our home, I asked the family members that were here, “Is there anything in the house you would like?” I just have to laugh, because I’m doing exactly what my mom did. During the four days my two daughters and some grandkids were here we took stock of quite a bit of stuff. We loaded their cars with Lodge cast iron pans, griddles, and Dutch Ovens. I love it, and they are grateful for the cooking devices. I love simplifying my life. I did stipulate one rule, if you take these home you must get rid of something you no longer need at your house.
The funniest part is, there were huge tubs we filled with items they wanted and they each put their names on them to be picked up later. Three of my granddaughters wrote down on 3 by 5-inch cards what they want when Mark and/or I are gone, and they took a picture of the cards with their phones. The cards were placed in my safe so they can retrieve the items at the appropriate time. Now, you may be thinking like me on this one, I don’t want to get rid of items that mean something to my precious daughters and grandkids, so I had them identify them for later pick up. It only makes sense.
How To Budget For Christmas
I know it’s a bit late this year to try and budget for Christmas, but you will get the drift of my ideas as you continue reading.
The first budget you put together has to be planned way before December. I know it’s late, but we have to start somewhere. If you have budgeted a certain amount of money for Christmas, you rock. I always remember what I spent last year and I try to never increase the amount. I won’t use credit cards because I don’t want to go into debt to satisfy a want or need for myself or anyone else.
If using a budget is a new concept for you and your family, let’s cover a good approach that really works. I suggest you grab a piece of paper and start with listing your net income (after taxes) and put it at the top. Then, list your rent, house payment, utilities, car payments, car expenses, groceries, donations, and any other expenses you have during most months. Without any other changes, this is a simple budget, money in and money out. I hope you’ve thought to set aside some money for savings or for unexpected things like home repairs, they can be real “budget busters.”
Then you start subtracting each expense you’ve listed from the net income. If you are short on your cash flow, then you have two choices, get a second job to make more income, or try to eliminate or reduce some of the expenses so the income exceeds what is being spent each month. These can prove to be tough decisions to make.
If you’re already working full-time, how can you fit in even a part-time job to help make ends meet? Whether you’re working a full schedule or just a few hours a day, you may be faced with the additional costs of transportation or child care.
On the other hand, if you are already having to decide whether to feed the family or get your teeth fixed, trying to cut back on expenses could be tough to do. One thing to think about as you put your list of expenses together, are there items listed that really aren’t necessary, like eating out, movies, gym memberships, video game purchases, etc.?
As a side note, please teach your children to be self-reliant and TO NOT DEPEND on others to cover their expenses. For some, it has become a way of life to depend on the government or your extended family to cover your family’s expenses.
Sorry for the rant, but come on people, the second choice is to get rid of the things we may want but don’t have to have to survive, like cell phones, cable, soft drinks, another shirt or blouse, and so on. There is always a way to cut expenses or add income to your household without expecting others to take care of you.
I remember one year when Mark and I had very little money and we wrote letters to family members as gifts. Our little family shared love notes with each other and with Grandma and Grandpa. I get teary eyes still remembering my dad’s face as he opened his letters from each of us. My mom was blubbering just as I was. Gifts can be free, I promise.
Now back to the budget. Figure out how much excess you have or you can earn that can help stretch your monthly cash flow. It just may be a second job. That’s life, people, it’s called work. Now, you can figure out how much you can save monthly for your Christmas budget, if there is anything left to spend.
P.S. If you get a raise at your job, put it in a savings account, learn to live on less. You can do it, I promise. Please don’t count on that yearly raise or bonus, it may not happen. If it does, put it in the bank. It’s called saving money and living on less.
Christmas Bank Savings Account
I remember setting up a Christmas savings account at the banks where I worked over the years. The payroll staff set up an automatic payment from my paycheck to go into that account. Here again, I tried to set up a budget and then stuck to it. By November I was ready to purchase the gifts I felt our family needed.
Cut Your Christmas Gift List
Now, this gets a little touchy. Some people can’t stop the urge to shop or give up gift-giving. You know what I’m talking about, some people feel the need to give to every aunt, uncle, sister, brother, cousin, grandma and grandpa, friends, etc. Here’s the deal, someone has to step up to the plate and say, “I can’t afford to do this anymore” when the family asks about drawing names for Christmas gifts this year.
I wrote a similar article last year, and several readers voiced their feelings that they could no longer afford to keep giving extended family gifts and didn’t know how to stop it.
Consider What Kind of Gifts Should be Given
If when you’ve completed your Christmas budget you find you have sufficient funds to purchase gifts for some family members, I’d like to suggest you consider some of the following items that are near and dear to me since they relate to preparedness:
Water: you can help support family preparedness by providing a gift that offers water storage options like 55 gallon barrels, Water Bricks, Blue Can cases, or larger storage containers. Everyone can use water when it comes to emergency prep.
Food: right now the #10 can freeze dried foods are more expensive than I’ve ever seen. I’d suggest buying some canned foods offered in store caselot sales. That way you can get some real bang for your buck. Also, consider a dehydrator they can use to store food economically.
Light Sources: people should have a way to light their home in case the power goes out. I like solar flashlights and lanterns, but the old standby flashlights using batteries are still a good option, and fairly inexpensive.
Cooking Devices: my blog frequently discusses ways we can cook when power, either electric or natural gas, are not available. Propane tanks for BBQ’s, butane stoves with canisters of fuel, SunOvens, fire pits, and other devices are good choices. Don’t forget fuel for the devices too.
Dutch Ovens: I use my cast iron Dutch oven to cook all the time. They are so versitile, I love preparing all sorts of meals with them. They’ll work in your regular oven or over an open fire.
Christmas Need or Wants
I hope you think twice this year before you buy any gifts, is it a want or a need? Am I the only one that thinks kids have way too much stuff?
Christmas Letters or Love Notes
I promise these are the best gifts in the world. I treasure the ones I have received. Nothing says love more than words written on a piece of paper and signed by the giver. If it’s been a while since you’ve seen that special loved one, an old friend, or that school teacher or mentor who helped you along your path, consider a personal delivery of the note or small gift. Doing so makes it even more meaningful.
I’ve personally been on a journey to simplify by life. We recently had to pack our house as we relocated to get closer to family. It gave me a chance to look over all my possessions and make some clear choices of what should be moved. Let me tell you, lots of stuff has been given to family, neighbors, thrift stores, and the local landfill. An old saying goes something like, “Two moves are as good as a fire” when it comes to getting rid of stuff. We don’t want to move again, and I certainly didn’t want a fire, so I tried to clear things out with this one move.
I doubt we’ll be doing too much Christmas shopping. Hopefully the kids and grandkids will appreciate what we’ve given them, even though “slightly” used. They were given as loving gifts we hope they can put to use for many years to come. I hope you’ve found this post on how to budget for Christmas as a helpful guide prior to the holidays. May God bless this world. Linda
19 thoughts on “How To Budget For Christmas”
One thing I started several years ago after having my debit card compromised is to purchase a prepaid Visa card for my budgeted amount. I use it for all purchases particularly online & non-local. If my info is stolen then the thief doesn’t get access to all of my accounts.
Excellent idea, Rebecca! I’m old fashioned & a little nervous putting my credit card info out there. Also, this would help avoid overspending.
Hi, Linda, the reason I felt strongly to write this today is some people need to learn to live on less and realize those presents are not always memories. I have a few neighbors that have lived off the government for years, some 15 years, food and housing. I know families who have enabled their kids. It needs to stop. I’m glad my mom taught me to work and my 4 girls learned to work and live on less. You may be old-fashioned just like me but you are smart! Great comment, Linda
Hi, Rebecca, wow that’s a great idea. I had my debit card compromised like 6 or 7 times this year. Great comment and tip, thank you! Linda
I stopped giving gifts to my adult kids, actually a call from my sons over the holidays is better than a wrapped gift any day. I give gifts to the great great grandson at the ripe old age of 5.. and hope to be around to give him many more gifts in the years to come…I too have gone thru the faze of offering to the kids. and they have taken many things from my home.. I sometimes make jams and jellies for friends, and the jars cost more than the ingredients… Made a batch of marmalade for Christmas a few years ago, it was a recipe I made for the kids when they were small and money was so tight.. using pineapple and carrots Kids loved it and we would use it on oven baked toast with a little butter on them and covered with the jam… that and a hot cup of cocoa was a treat to them..the grated carrots looked like marmalade and is quite tasty..
Hi Jeanne, I love homemade gifts, and jams and jellies are the best! I’m like you I would much rather get a phone call or a visit to any wrapped gift. I look back at some of the stuff I bought and shake my head, why did you buy that Linda? LOL! Oh well, live and learn. That pineapple and grated carrot jam marmalade sound yummy! I could put that on my homemade bread, yum! Linda
I would love to try that. Would you share the recipe?
Good idea!!! Linda
Hi Jeanne, you mentioned the marmalade recipe you made for your kids using pineapple and carrots, could you share the recipe? Is it your recipe and if it’s okay can I post it on that Christmas gift page I wrote? I will put made by Jeanne B. If that’s okay. Happy holidays, Linda
Linda, there are so many recipes for carrot jam on the internet but back when I first made it I just made it with what I had on hand… you can dress it up with lots of seasonings or just make it plain like I did for the little ones, kids were only 2 and 3 when my husband was killed and money was so tight, so I needed something to make the toast taste better and tried it. a can of crushed pineapple, a full cup of shredded carrots, the pineapple juice ,lemon juice and water to make about 2 cups and about 3 tbs of pectin.
boil the carrots, pineapple and juice as it starts to thicken add the sugar and pectin and continue boiling for about 10 more minutes.. you can add nutmeg, cinnamon, or other seasonings but I just made it plan for the kids. i put it in the sterilized jars and lightly tighten the caps, put in hot water and bring to a boil for about 10 minutes and then tighten the caps. i was just looking on the internet and found so many recipes for it that really sounds tempting. Don’t need to add my name, I just know the kids enjoyed it.. and now seeing how many tempting recipes I just looked at, I might start playing with the seasonings…
Jeanne, your husband was killed and you had two little ones oh my gosh, my heart aches for you. Isn’t it fun to make jam or marmalade from scratch??? Thanks for sharing the recipe. You are so nice. Hugs, Linda
Debit cards are safe with pay pal, so far I have never had a problem as pay pal pays and takes from my bank account, the order never has any info of my card… I too am afraid of posting info on my card to sellers…i buy a lot of little things off of e-bay, never giving debit card info, Pay Pal to the rescue….
Hi Jeanne, I would be cautious with eBay as well. I have never had trouble with my PayPal account either, thank goodness. Better safe than sorry. Linda
Oh my downfall is e-bay.using Pay Pal to pay for the items I just can’t live without.. the town I live in has nothing, little stores to tempt the visitors but not even a sewing machine needle or a spool of thread in the whole town, must drive 25 miles to get anything, largest Marine Base in area here, but the base has everything for them.. so town gets smaller and smaller.. I drive 25 miles to get to Dr, stores, and even get my gas over there because otherwise I would have to back track a little over a mile to fill up my tank.. we do have one major grocery store, Staters, and i love them but Yucca has a big Walmart and nice places to get a quick lunch and gas is cheaper too. so I buy a lot on e-bay, find in looking for bargains I can research and find prices I can afford, I do buy the chicken feed and dog and cat food thru Walmart and they deliver it for free right to my door.. at decent prices. It is all most impossible to try to lift the sacks with my back weaker as the months go by . this way my helper that comes 2 hours a couple of days a week to clean carries it in and on to the back porch for me..
Oh, Jeanne, I love hearing Walmart delivers and your tips on eBay. My town is small but we can at least get a sewing machine needle and thread!! LOL! I usually order everything online, my town is too small to find things. Plus, I’m too tired to go looking for stuff. I use my fingers on a laptop to order stuff I need. I decluttering right now, the older I get the less I want or need. I’m glad to hear you have a helper to clean and carry stuff. I hired a young man to clean the leaves off my front yard. He could use the money and I don’t have it in me anymore to rake and bag. I hope your back doesn’t get any worse. Happy holidays, my friend, Linda
I also just ordered dog and cat food from chewy.com it has free delivery and it costs only one dollar more than Wal mart. I look for free delivery on e-bay too, the people selling don’t seem to realize that sometimes the delivery costs more than the item they are selling.. Being as old as I am, and with blood clots in the only lung and also in my legs, can’t have any more operations and I ruptured another disc.. already had a double lamenectomy years ago.. and now pain gets bad, hate pain meds, don’t like anything like that in my system and after so many radio frequency on my back they now are injecting steroids into my spinal column… worked so well, was without any pain for over 2 weeks. I take blood thinners to keep the blood clots away but always a chance with the injections that I can start bleeding.. so trying to wait another month and a half to go in the hospital and have the steroids done again…I can live with the ouch now. just go lay down for awhile and think up more things to do when the ouch stops… it is terrible when your mind goes overboard with all kinds of things to get done and the body says NO WaY… so I figure out ways of getting things done with the least stress on the bod…. I love your group, a nice group of folks, so glad you let me in…thanks.
Hi Jeanne, I’m so glad you are in “Our group”. I love that statement. We all learn from one another. Wow, you have been through the wringer so to speak. When I was younger I took my health for granted. Life can change…I’m going to write a post on what’s been going on with me since March. I hope it helps someone else. Take care, my friend, your attitude makes me smile. Take care, my friend, Hugs, Linda
I think that Christmas has gotten so commercial, that it’s meaning has gotten lost. We paired down our gift giving to the Children, we don’t need anything, or want for much.
Oh, Janet, I totally agree. Mark and I are to the point we are getting rid of stuff. Our kids need very little as well. The true meaning of Christmas has gotten lost in the “I want everything” mode. I love your comment because it will help people realize that we can pare down our gift lists. AND it’s okay. Happy Holiday! Linda