No, I’m not one of those über efficient women who have everything bought by March. But I am a budget-obsessed shopper, pacing my gift purchases by the paycheck. Depending on when and what you celebrate and how you get paid, chances are you have a max of 10 paychecks between you and this year’s holiday gift giving.
To prevent January budget fatigue, write a list now of standard gifts that you’re likely to need and budget them across the remaining 10 paychecks. Always buy your landlord/doorman/boss/babysitter/dogwalker a token gift. Buy those now across several paychecks and you won’t be eating ramen noodles on December 31th.
Holiday time and budget tips:
Make A List
Say you usually spend $50 on three standard gifts every year. Buying them over 3 paychecks is sure easier than forking over the $150 all at once in December.
Keep Your Eyes Peeled
For bigger gifts like that necklace for your mom, tickets for your dad, weekend away with your friend, etc. Buying now means less of a chunk out of your cash flow later.
Keep It Together
Keep all your gifts together in a large bag, drawer or shelf. Then in November go through and label what you have—ticking off against your list. You still have a couple of paychecks to fill in what you’re missing, but with way less stress or bite out of your budget.
If you usually have dressier office or social holiday parties to attend, fit those purchases into your budget now, too. Shoes, a new bag or dress can all be found in summer or pre-season sales now. Remember to check vintage to save and go in style at the same time.
Whether email or snail, start an Excel spreadsheet (or BBM, etc.) that’ll keep track of your holiday note/card list. Get photos now of any vaca shots, new homes, children, dogs, or anything you’d like to share with friends and family.
Make It Up
If you’re planning to make non-perishable gifts, take a rainy afternoon and start making the gifts you’ll exchange now. You’ll know what supplies you’ll need and just enjoy the process more than when your schedule is crammed for the holidays.
Can’t afford a gift for a friend or family member this year? Want to give gifts of charity instead of things? Just sending catch-up emails? Tell them now and you’ll set the standard and avoid any confusion.
Pay for the holidays in a staggered budget now and you’ll actually be able to enjoy when the air is nippy and your season is here!