"So, what do you want for Christmas? And when are you coming in?"
These were the questions my sister asked as we chatted on the phone last week. I was folding laundry...in the piles, recently washed items such as a sleeveless shift dresses and shorts Kiddo wore last week. It's still warm-ish. It's mot even Halloween yet. It's September!
But I knew she was right. The holidays are going to be here before you know it, and with the holidays come those "needed extras:" extra time, extra money, extra everything. That's why, again, my older sis is the wise one. Sigh. She's already getting started on all of it. Planning ahead saves you not only time, but money. Where to start with your holiday budgeting and planning? I've got the lowdown...now let's all start humming "Falalalalala!"
--Think about last year. Did you go overboard with the kids' gifts? Did you forget to get the cat a new chew toy? Review what worked last year and what perhaps you want to do differently this season.
-- Make a list. Get that master holiday list going: travel to-dos, who you buy gifts for, what holiday goodies need to be made for the annual office party. Also, start to visualize the weeks to work in any traditions you love to do. Look up when the tree lighting is downtown and put it on the calendar. Gather all of the ins and outs of what you like to do to celebrate the holidays.
-- Talk to the family and decide on gifts. Perhaps it's a good time to kick off a "kids only" agreement with your siblings or draw names to save everyone some cash. Be honest with those you exchange with and come up with a plan for everyone.
-- Set a budget. Look over how much you can put away each week to pay for these extras, and remember those hidden costs, like gas money or teacher gifts or plane tickets.
-- Shop now. Start shopping now. With Columbus Day sales in October and then Black Friday after Thanksgiving, you can score great deals. Just be sure to jot down what you've purchased so you don't overbuy later.
-- Think homemade. Especially for gifts from the kiddos to the grandparents or for the teachers or office mates, if you are crafty, start figurin out homemade gifts you can make, and get them going. It could save quite a bit of moolah.
Have you started thinking about the holidays? Did you stick to your budget last year? What is your biggest area where you overspend during the holidays?