This can be an expensive time of year, whether you celebrate Christmas, another holiday or just like to take advantage of the winter and holiday season. So that you don’t regret all the fun in January when the bills arrive, having a last minute holiday budget or spending plan is important, regardless if money is tight or not.
A Short Plan is Better Than No Plan
With only a few weeks left before you hang your stockings and ring in the New Year, a 4 week plan is better than no plan. Before you get caught up in the hustle and bustle, here’s what a holiday spending plan should not forget:
Decide who you need to buy for, what can you afford to spend and who will you not buy for this year. After factoring in gift wrap, cards, shipping or mailing and insurance, take a page from the big guy in the red suit and check your list twice!
Think back to last year and look ahead at your calendar; which events do you want to attend and how much are you prepared to spend on clothing, babysitters, taxis, hostess gifts, tickets, etc. It will add up much too quickly once you’re caught up in the hustle and bustle, so considering it all ahead of time will help you prioritize.
Finalize your holiday meal plan, not forgetting about the additional meals and snacks you’ll be enjoying with those who come to visit. Buy non-perishables, frozen, preserved or canned items as they go on sale throughout the month. If you’re a holiday baker, consider using your homemade treats as gifts. Those who don’t have time or who don’t like to bake will enjoy and appreciate your thoughtfulness.
Venture up into the attic or down into the basement to dig into your storage boxes sooner than later. If you’re like most people, you likely bought some things on sale last year after Christmas that you’ve forgotten about.
Choose Your Best Shopping Options
You’ve got a lot of options, so start now and plan when and how you’re going to shop – in store, online or by redeeming loyalty points. If you’re hitting the stores, choose off-peak times, eat first and bring a bottle of water. After you’ve got what you need for someone, cross them off your list so that you’re not tempted to keep on buying. Keep a running tally, either on paper or electronically, to help you stay on track. If you’re ordering online, watch delivery dates and costs so that you’re not disappointed.
Prepare for the Cold
Don’t wait until the first snowflakes fall before you buy snow tires and winterize your vehicle. Depending on how cold it gets where you live and drive, maintenance now can save you costly repairs later.
Take a look around your home to make sure your house is ready for the cold as well. If you’ll be away during the holidays, ask a neighbour or friend to not only pick up your mail and papers, but to also come in and watch for burst pipes or problems arising from weather damage. Ensure your house-sitter has your contact details in case they need to reach you.
If You Can't Beat Frosty, Join Him!
Maybe the most fun part of preparing for the cold means getting your skates sharpened, buying your ski passes or dusting off the toboggan. Check that everyone has warm jackets, hats and mittens that fit (matching is optional!) and then get out and enjoy some festive, family fun!
Related article: How to Save Time and Money on Christmas Gifts