I know its too early to start talking about Christmas. This year has been a crazy whirlwind & feels like it never got started, so how could it be Christmas already?
And shame on me for bringing it up so early!
But … as a single Mom (who lost all her photography income this year, thank goodness for my Widows pension & the Child Welfare payments), I need to start planning ahead.
Without planning, I panic & buy too many stocking stuffers & then go over budget. Thats besides planning for food over the holiday season.
As of writing there’s 15 weeks to Christmas. It doesn’t seem so far away now does it!
PLAN OUT THE HOLIDAY SEASON
Gifts / Presents
Get out a sheet of paper & write down all the presents you need to buy & roughly how much you need to spend on each person. Don’t forget ‘Secret Santas’ or ‘Teachers Gifts’. I know years ago we would’ve given a contribution to the Postmen & Bin Collectors too, so if you have that, you’ll want to write this down too.
The food budget goes out the window at Christmas with lots of guests & big family traditions. The Christmas dinner can be easily planned out ahead of time. But, lets not forget New Year celebrations or other observed holidays over the Festive Season.
Write out & budget for the big celebrations & then if you know what your ‘normal’ weekly budget is for food I suggest to you add a bit extra & add that in. Remember, most people don’t get paid over the holiday season.
If you already budget out your food every month/week. Only add the extra to your Christmas budget. For example, if you usually spend €100 per week on food, and you think the Christmas season will be €150, only add the extra €50 per week to your Christmas Budget. So for me, its an extra €100 for the 2 weeks of Christmas & New Year.
Each year we like to buy a few ‘good’ decorations. Nothing too extravagant, but it definitely adds up. Maybe you’re in the market for a new tree or lights, make sure you add this to your budget.
Santa Visits / Activities
Considering this is the year of Covid, I doubt Santa will be allowing visitors this year (he is pretty old after all!). But its worth adding in any childrens activities you may attend. Perhaps this year it will be swapped for a hot chocolate & a visit to the local park to see some deer.
We don’t travel at Christmas as all our family live overseas, so its just the 3 of us. But I know many people who would do alot of travelling to see family over the Festive Season. Add to your budget any Hotels, Petrol or other travel expenses you may need money for.
Tis the season for giving after all. Add it any contributions to Charity or additional tithes.
Using my earlier examples, my Christmas Budget would break down like this :
I know this is a very conservative budget, but remember, I’m a single Mom on low income & don’t have family to buy gifts for.
Okay, so now we have to figure out how we’re going to pay for it.
A sinking fund is like a mini-savings account. You figure out how much you need (the goal) and write it on an envelope. You then put money in until you reach the goal – most people choose a weekly or monthly breakdown.
So lets say you have a budget for Christmas of €630, that would be €42 for 15 weeks. You could break it down by payday too.
Is this realistic? If not, you’ll need to reduce some of the categories until it fits within your savings ability.
Some people start saving in January for Christmas … obviously the longer you can save for, the easier it is & the lower the amount needed each week.
In another blog post I’ll discuss How to Stick to the Budget you’ve just created.
If you’re interested, I have a Christmas Gift & Meal Planner that will help you keep track of your spending as well as planning out the Christmas Meals.