Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Guest Post: Budget-friendly Christmas: How to keep your cost under control

Written by Miranda Owen

When number crunching with a calculator leads you to anxiety over how to avoid blowing your budget this Christmas, then rest assured as this goal of yours is always achievable with a little dose of creativity and some dash of expert advice.
To help yourself out of the festive obligations – from decorating your home to exchanging gifts in style to entertaining your pals, on a budget, you may read along.
Budgeting ideas for Christmas
Here are some of the ways to plan your Christmas expenses on a suitable budget:
  • Before you start, talk – In order to make your cost cutting plans successful and to fit in the entire Christmas celebrations on a budget, you need a strong moral support from your family. Talk to them regarding gifts and their costs. Have a discussion on the limited number of gifts you are willing spend on this time. This would particularly imply to you, if you’re catering to a large family. Basically, purchasing gifts for every family member will add up to your costs. So, it is better to reach a consensus about the amount of money you've planned to spend on each member. In case of severe cash crunch, you can decide to present only the kids in your family with gifts. A smart way to convince your family members about your new found love for budgeting is to ask them whether an expensive gift is more important or a thoughtfully chosen, tailored one? 
  • Buy fresh from sale – A limiting budget has always taught people some useful financial hacks that don’t otherwise happen to a happy-go-lucky spender. In other words, you should make it a point to take advantage of sales happening throughout the year. That said, sales closer to Christmas is worth adding to your shopping to-do list. For instance, you can make huge savings during end-of-summer sales or sales after thanksgiving, and so on. Always carry a list of people you want to present gifts with, or else you may stock up on them excessively. In addition, you can also take advantage of post-Christmas sales to purchase decorations, cards, gifts, tableware, wrapping paper, etc and store them for next Christmas. Make sure that you keep these items in an easily accessible place and use them whenever Christmas is around. 
  • Plan a catch-up Christmas – If on last Christmas you had to overspend and your budget really got overstretched, then consider cutting your budget this time or if possible, then have a no-expense Christmas. By the help of a no-expense Christmas, it’d become easy for you to catch up with your overstretched (deficient) budget. When celebrating a no-expense Christmas doesn't mean that you’ll have to give up on the good things the festive season has to offer. For example, you can make a nice meal at home for everyone to enjoy. For this, you may go through some old cookbooks for an affordable Christmas cooking. Moreover, use homemade gifts by recycling waste or low-cost items. But remember not to buy any fresh items like decorations, artificial tree, carnations, etc as doing so will add to your financial burden. 
  • Budget is indispensable –Prior to the onset of the frenzy of Christmas, it is essential to find out how much money you have at your disposal to spend comfortably during the festive season. The money in hand will determine the amount you've saved throughout the year, how much you can earmark for the present celebrations and the amount of extra amount you can set aside weeks before the arrival of Christmas. In order to create a proper Christmas budget, you’ll have to decide the amount of money you are willing to spend on gifts, including food, decorations, etc ahead of all other things. No matter what happens or how much you are tempted to buy certain items that are not on your shopping list, it is crucial for you refrain from those as you might end up spending a lot extra on unnecessary items. So, stick to your budget, at any cost.
As far as your home d├ęcor for Christmas is concerned, then you can always to do so on a dime. Decorating your home doesn't have to cost you a fortune. Rather, by adding some small accents to your living space will add to the festive taste and flair to your home. To start with, you may bargain for the Christmas tree. Never hesitate to ask for a discount or bargain for a low price, as this is the norm during shopping. Every dollar you save will encourage you to stick to your budget and egg you to continue saving more and more dollars. The same rule would apply when you’ll go shopping for flowers, garlands, lights, food and so on. Lastly, budget is not about how much you make, but how much you save it!

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