Thursday, October 29, 2009

Creating a Holiday Budget

The best part of holiday shopping is picking out gifts for everyone on your list. The worst part is when January comes along with the bills and you realize you over spent. One way to avoid the worst part is to create and stick to a holiday budget.

Step 1: Create a budget book. Add lined paper, dividers, and a zipper pocket (pens and pencil pouch) to a 3 ring binder. The paper is for taking notes and keeping track of things. The dividers are to separate lists or budget years. The zipper pocket is to hold all of your receipts.

Step 2: List Expenses. Make a list of each person you need to buy a gift for. This includes family, friends, teachers, and co-workers. Don't forget to make a list of other holiday expenses like: greeting cards, gift wrap, decorations, baking supplies for cookie trays etc.

Step 3: Set Limits. Evaluate what you spent last year or estimate what you spent last year and determine where you need to cut back and where you need a little more. Maybe you went way overboard with the cookie trays but needed a little more money for gifts. Make adjustments where necessary and then place an amount on everything. For example, $5 for teacher gifts, $10 per co-worker, $20 per extended family member, $50 for decorations. Maybe this year you can cut back on the number of cards you send out and send e-cards instead. Many people throw away the cards after the season anyway.

The most important thing is to do what is best for you. Don't compare your budget to someone else’s because everyone has different ideas and needs. Once you have your budget set make sure you keep track of everything you spend. You may go over on something but under on others. Make adjustments where necessary. Follow through with your budget to make sure there are no surprises come January.

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