Christmas is still weeks away. The stockings aren't stuffed. We haven't bought a tree. The fridge isn't packed with holiday snacks and our turkey just yet. I still haven't bought presents for my husband and several other friends and family members. So how is it possible that I've already spent my holiday budget?
I blame the early shopping, which I thought would help me avoid the holiday rush. Instead of making a list, buying items and crossing them off, and then finishing early, I've (over) bought for my daughters, not made a list, and am running out of holiday funds. So where do I go from here?
Make a list.
Now's the time to take inventory. I need to pull the bags from the basement, closets, and from garage and dump them out into the living room. What did I buy? Who did I buy for? What do I need to buy now?
If you've blown the holiday budget, you may be able to redistribute some of your purchases. That third puzzle for my daughter can go to my nephew instead. Do some creative thinking about the purchases that you've already made and how you can make them stretch in order to check more items off of your shopping list.
Make, don't buy.
Not every gift you purchase this holiday season needs to come from the store. As corny as it might sound, the best gifts really do come from the heart. Make pictures frames with the kids using Popsicle sticks, paint, glue, and glitter. Turn them into magnets with some magnetic tape. Insert the kids' school pictures. These are perfect for grandparents, aunts, uncles, and godparents, too!
If crafts aren't your thing, consider baking this holiday season instead. Cookies, brownies, pretzels dipped in milk chocolate and drizzled with white chocolate, and fudge are all great ideas for family and friends this holiday season.
Skimp on remaining holiday expenses.
Do you really need to purchase, stamp, and mail 120 Christmas cards (don't laugh…I've been known to do it)? Does every teacher need a $20 gift card when $5-$10 and a homemade card will do? Can you survive with a 6-foot-tree instead of one that's 9 feet tall? If cutting back on things you haven't spent money on yet can help you enjoy the holiday more and keep your holiday budget more manageable, do it.
Cut back in other areas.
Can you turn heat to 68 instead of 70 degrees? You'll save money if you can. What about skipping that weekly dinner out until Christmas comes and goes? Cha-ching. Buy only necessities at the grocery store this week, focusing instead on using up what's already in the pantry week after week. There's a little more in your pocket. If you can figure out what you want to spend on the rest of the holiday season, you can work to find that money in your budget with cutbacks.
Don't let some early overspending ruin your holiday season!
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