Breaking your Christmas budget can wreak havoc on your holidays. But it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, it really shouldn’t be this way.
In order for us to keep from get over-extended and overwhelmed by the season, we need to take some steps to ensure that it remains focused on what it’s really all about.
Here are 10 ways to make Christmas magical – even on a budget!
1. Pay in Cash
As Dave Ramsey always says, “Cash is king!”. He’s right. Especially at Christmas time. When you can discipline yourself to shop with cash you can truly get to the New Year without the stress and disappointment of going overboard. If you don’t have the cash to pay for what you want, don’t get it. It’s not worth it and it misses the point of what Christmas is all about.
2. Save all year.
My wife and I figured out a long time ago something very important about Christmas: it comes every, single year! The good news is that is comes at the same, exact time, too! How lucky is that!? Since that’s true, and you know it’s coming again, you would be wise to create your budget ahead of time and divide that amount by 12 months. Save a little each month so that you get to December and have the cash to pay for what you’d like.
3. Make homemade gifts
This is truly an overlooked idea. But who doesn’t love a thoughtful, handmade gift? (Besides your kids who think its lame?) Think ahead of who is on your list. Can you make them something as simple as a hand-written note or maybe share a family recipe with them? It really doesn’t have to be big or elaborate to be meaningful and great. Put some thought into it and do what you can. I bet they’ll love it!
4. Limit the gifts
One idea that I have heard and like a lot is the idea of giving a set amount of gifts. Something in the range of 3-4 for each person. One may be a gift of something they actually need. Another may be something they want. Another may be something to help them grow spiritually. Be creative and set a limit on the number gifts ahead of time.
5. Buy experiences – not as many presents
My wife is amazing at helping us to focus on what Christmas is really all about. When your budget is tight, be sure to think of outside-the-box ideas that can get your family experiencing things together instead of just opening gifts. Ideas like a Christmas train ride or dinner and movie night or staying at a hotel for a special night during Christmas break. What experiences can you share in together and create memories around? These may be your favorite gifts of the year!
6. Create a spending limit
One of the best things that my wife and I have done is limit how much we’re going to spend on each person on our list – including each other. We put everybody that we are budgeting for on an index card and prioritize the list and put an amount next to each person. We make it all fit within our pre-determined budget and save all year. For us, it takes the guesswork and worries out at the same time.
7. Focus on giving – not getting
Jesus is the reason for the season and in His own words, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” He’s right, of course. There’s nothing like giving and it always feels especially blessed during the Christmas season. One of the best ways, then, to keep in budget is to keep focused on where you can give your time, your money, and your help during this time of year.
8. Be okay with saying No
There will inevitably be people who we want to give to during the Christmas season who were not on our list. Maybe someone gives you something and you feel the need to reciprocate. Maybe someone from out-of-town is going to be around and you didn’t have anything for them. No matter what, it’s okay to say No. When you’re doing Christmas on a budget, there are always going to be situations where you’d like to give and just aren’t able to. Learn to be okay with this and focus on doing what you can instead.
9. Shop earlier in the year for deals
I’m a dude and I do very little shopping. But one of the best things that I’ve witnessed is when we get to Christmas and I quiz my wife on what we’re getting for someone and she says that they’re all set because she picked something up earlier in the year. It always amazes me and strikes me as very wise. When you’re prepared and save a little each month, it makes this very easy to do. I highly recommend it!
10. Talk about Jesus
What does talking about Jesus have to do with making Christmas work on a budget? Everything! The more that you focus on Jesus and why we celebrate Christmas in the first place, the easier it is to keep your focus on what really matters and what the season really represents: God came down on Christmas morning and our Savior was born. His name is Jesus and our focus and worship should be squarely on Him.
Want more ideas? Here’s some ideas on how to save for Christmas today.