Did Christmas break the bank this year? Did you swear to never again get stuck doing things at the last minute? Planning Christmas in advance not only saves you money, but also reduces stress. Here are four tips to help you get started on planning for Christmas today.
When planning Christmas, it helps to know what you did right and what you could improve on. Start by taking stock of the last holiday season: were you too short on time to decorate your home to be as festive as you wanted? Did you find all the gifts you wanted to give? Did you have enough food when you hosted dinner?
Take note of the things you would like to improve on and keep them in mind when thinking ahead for preparations next year.
Make a calendar
Plot important dates for Christmas preparations in advance on a calendar. Keep in mind your assessment of last year and plan enough time for all your preparations. Give yourself one hour per month to revise your calendar and remind yourself of things to do and make changes if necessary.
Set a budget
Setting a budget is the key to successful planning. Without a budget, you risk spending beyond your means and falling into consumerism. Over-spending is a dangerous trap that causes accumulated debts you won’t be able to clear later.
To find out how much you need to budget when looking ahead to next year, gather up all your bills and account statements. Group your expenses into categories: activities, gifts, food, restaurants, travel, etc. Add up the total amount.
With this information at hand, decide whether the amount of money spent on the holiday season is acceptable or too high. Now set a reasonable budget to prepare for this coming Christmas.
By knowing in advance what your budget will be for the holidays, you could even start saving up a small amount every month. By planning Christmas expenses this way, you can avoid steep credit card bills come January.
Make a list and shop for gifts year-round
Finding time to shop or find inspiration for the perfect gift isn’t easy. This is why stores are packed with last-minute shoppers right up until Christmas Eve Day.
If you shop at the last minute, be prepared to pay full price for all your purchases. There is also the possibility that the most popular items will all be gone.
A good solution to prepare for Christmas and shopping is to be all ears all year long and be observant. People close to us are constantly giving out good gift ideas without even knowing it. By listening to them closely, great ideas will come. For example:
- Your friend has been talking about a new TV show hosted by a chef she really likes. Make a note to get her the chef’s recipe book.
- Your Dad complains that he is tired of mowing the lawn. Consider treating him to a lawn care contract.
Another bonus of shopping year-round is that you’ll be able to shop whenever you feel like it. By being patient, you will also have a better chance of finding some items on your list on sale. In doing so, you will also save some serious cash.
Preparing for the holidays saves you financial headaches
As a licensed insolvency trustee, every year I see how many people are in financial trouble after the holidays. It is when the credit card bill arrives that people realize the full extent of their financial woes. By planning Christmas today, you will minimize your chances of being overwhelmed by debt next January.
That being said, if you are in the middle of a financial crisis, the best thing to do is contact us. We will assess your situation at no charge and explain what your options are for your debt problems. Know that bankruptcy is only ever considered as a last resort and is usually avoidable if steps are taken in time.
For a free assessment, contact Ginsberg Gingras. Discretion assured.