Ready for the holidays?
I can’t believe the holiday season is only a few months away! Christmas is 6 months away, but it seems like things really start to get rolling in October. Now’s a great time to check in with yourself regarding your expectations for the upcoming holidays.
One of the easiest ways to reduce holiday-related stress is to take steps now that set the stage for an enjoyable season this fall and winter. What do you want the holidays to feel like? What will make it most meaningful for you and your family?
Understanding your expectations ahead of time can make planning a little easier. And when you’ve already set aside the money needed to create the desired holiday experience, the entire process becomes so much more enjoyable.
We tend to make holidays more complicated than they need to be – I believe that. But I also believe that we should acknowledge the things that make holidays special for us, embrace them, and then make a plan to arrive at our destination. Holidays are the perfect category for a sinking fund. Read more here about sinking funds, how to establish them, use them and maintain them.
Even a little bit of planning (managing expectations and setting up a budget) can remove the financial-related stress often associated with holidays because it puts you in charge of your time and money. That’s a gift in and of itself!
Here are some tips to get you started:
1. Make a list of everyone you want to buy gifts for and decide now how much you’ll spend on each person. Divide the total cost up by 6 months (June – December) to determine how much you’ll need to save between now and then. Does your monthly savings goal fit in with your current spending and savings priorities? Go back to the drawing board and prioritize what you most want to spend on and adjust as necessary.
2. Make a Christmas card list. Find your favorite card and price it out per card. Calculate postage costs. Now you know your budget for cards! Is it realistic? If not, make changes now to avoid last minute decisions that are often driven more by stress than your true desires.
3. Holiday parties? How much do you estimate you’ll spend on these? What needs to be set aside now? The landscape might look a little different this year with social distancing, but my guess is you’ll still want to set aside some money for this category so you’re not caught off guard.
4. Extra groceries. This budget category always goes up around the holidays. How much extra needs to be set aside to cover your baking extravaganza or holiday dinner party?
5. Decorations. Want some new décor this year? Set aside some money to make that happen now so you’re not feeling pressured when it’s time to go shopping.
6. Christmas tree. Need a new artificial tree? Or does your family enjoy a real tree? Either way, they’re not cheap. Add a line item to your holiday budget to make sure tree shopping doesn’t become a stressful event because you don’t have enough set aside.
7. Clothes. Maybe this category will look a little different this year if we’re not having as many in-person celebrations. But, I include it because I always find myself needing a new pair of shoes for my kids at the last minute, or I realize their pants or dresses are now a foot to short.