Put Yourself on a Holiday Budget

November 29, 2010 by Kathy Nellor

For so many years, I found myself dreadfully waiting for the credit card bills to arrive in my mailbox every January after the holidays. I always justified the use of them by telling myself, "how could I ever possibly afford a Christmas holiday without accumulating a little debt along the way?  I’d pay it back in January when everything wasn’t so crazy." But in January the real struggle began..trying to figure out how long it would take us to pay off the debt. Then before we knew it, next December had rolled around – and low and behold, the credit cards were still not paid off and it was time to do more holiday shopping. This went on for several years – until the holidays didn’t feel so cheerful – especially when every expense was full of guilt and remorse.

And then one year, we sat down with a financial advisor and found and implemented a technique that made the holidays wonderful for everyone – including me! We started a holiday budget or mini-savings account just for our holiday expenses. The first thing we did is established a set amount that we thought was reasonable to spend. Then we took that figure (let’s just say it was $1200) and divided it by 12 months. Then each month we put aside $100 in our holiday account and did that each month until December. When January rolled around that year and there wasn’t a holiday credit card bill haunting me – that was the best Christmas gift ever! We could enjoy the looks in our kids’ eyes when they opened their gifts and it lifted a heavy burden off of us. It took discipline and will-power, but it forced us to “save” for our holiday expenses and make that expense part of our lifestyle all year long. It also made us stick to a budget during the holiday and not spend anymore than we had allotted for the occasion. It sounds pretty simple – but the hardest part is making sure that you stick to it all year long.

Tags:  Financial Wellness, Holidays, Budget