Over the last few years, Rick and I have gotten pretty good at managing our monthly budget. The one place where we have a huge bump, however, is always at the end of the year. The holidays.
Ugh. Holiday shopping is a large hole in our budget. Every year we say we’re going to save, going to put a little money away every month so we have a cushion for December to buy gifts (or supplies to make gifts) for our family and friends. But we don’t. And then we end up relying on Rick’s bonus money or selling items on Etsy (I did pretty good last year), or whatever to eek out just enough for Christmas. And we always end up scrimping on the gifts we give each other.
This year, I’m trying something different. Buying and making gifts as I go. I know it’s not a new concept, but I have never been able to make it work. I always forget what I bought or where I put it, or I give the person the gift I bought early because I just can’t wait.
This year, I have a plan. It’s a list. That I keep with me.
First, I made a list with three columns: Who, What, and Where. Make this list somewhere when you won’t lose it. Mine is in my planner on a Contacts page in the back. Put it in your phone, whatever… just somewhere where you can find it and access it quickly. Not on your home computer. I’ve tried that, and I forgot to keep it up to date.
The Who column is for all of all the people you’d like to give gifts to. Count them up. For me, it is 19 people if I count individuals, or 14 if we do some couple/family gifts. Looking at how many months before the holidays, and since I started this in January, I decided that if I buy or make two gifts per month, I’d have all of my gifts made or purchased no later than September. And I can totally afford two gifts per month. If I were starting now, I would still be able to make it by December, possibly November.
Ok, so two gifts a month. Now here’s where the list is super important. I need to remember WHAT I bought (and for whom), and WHERE I put it, so that in December, I can find the gift and give it to the person I bought it for. That’s why you must have the list with you.
And then write down what the gift is and where you put it.
For example, I found this funny little mini-pinball game for my grandpa (I can share this gift because my grandpa doesn’t read my blog). So next to my Grandpa’s name, I wrote Pinball Game in the What column, and then Pink Shoe Box in the Closet in the Where column. At the old house we kept that box under the bed. Since I moved the box, I made sure to update my list. So I can find it later.
Simple, right? I’ve stuck with it, and I really think it’s going to work this year. And, it will leave me and Rick some extra money come the end of the year for each other, the kids, and the people we draw names for at Thanksgiving.
Do you budget or plan for the holidays? What do you do that works?