Budgeting for the Holidays: Part 2

The holiday season is a busy time for celebrations and giving. It’s easy to lose track of how much you’re spending on everything from travel to winter break activities. Yesterday we shared gift-giving tips for budgeting for the holidays. Today we’re helping keep the rest of your holiday season on budget with even more savvy wallet-friendly advice.

Travel

We all know traveling over the holidays can be extra expensive between airlines jacking up ticket prices and gas hikes as well.

Budgeting for the Holidays: Part 2For air travel, use discount travel websites to find the lowest fares and purchase at non-peak times when you may get the best deals. Traveling with a baby is good for your budget because children under two do not need their own tickets!

When traveling by car, get your car tuned up before the trip to ensure it is as gas efficient as possible. Pack your own food and snacks to avoid unnecessary convenience store expenses. Also, fill up on gas in rural locations where the prices won’t be as high. Use apps to help you find the best gas prices on your route.

When budgeting for the holidays, consider other travel expenses too such as boarding pets, baggage fees, parking and car transportation to your destination.

Holiday Celebrations

If you’re hosting a holiday party or meal this year, plan wisely. Pot luck is a great way to cut down on food costs and take some of the burden of meal prep off of you. As tempting as it may be to use paper and plastic goods for your holiday celebrations, it is more economical to use regular dishes and silverware that you can run through the dishwasher, even if it means you have some mis-matched pieces.

Don’t forget to budget for the little things such as carpet or house cleaning after a big event or activities for kids so they don’t wreak havoc on your house.

If you will be attending several holiday parties this year, pick out one new outfit that will work for all occasions. If you need a variety of outfits, ask to borrow from friends or get something tailored that you haven’t worn for years.

Family Activities

When school is out it’s tempting to enjoy a few indulgent family activities like going to the movies, an ice skating rink or bowling alley. These can be fun but make sure you budget for them and limit them to only a few over the holiday break. It’s also tempting to eat out a lot over the holidays, especially if you’ve slaved away on several big meals lately.

Come up with free activities including parks, game nights and cooking a family meal together. These can be just a fun and easier on your budget.

Budgeting for the holidays takes some prep work but it can help you save big bucks in the long run. We wish you a happy and budget-friendly holiday season!

Sources: Huffington Post, The Today Show and Dave Ramsey

 

Budgeting for the Holidays: Part 1

Budgeting for the Holidays: Part 1With holiday gift-giving, traveling and partying approaching, budgeting for the holidays is a smart idea, especially when you have kids. In the spirit of joy and giving, it’s so easy to overdo it to make your kiddos, friends and family happy. But if breaking the bank over the holiday season will have serious consequences for you come January, budgeting for the holidays is a must.

As you plan ahead for the season, keep these gifting tips in mind when budgeting for the holidays:

Make a List and Set a Budget Per Person

Lists will ensure you have everyone covered and allow you to visually see expected expenses as a whole. Create a simple spreadsheet to keep track of who you’re buying for, what you want to buy and how much you expect it to cost. Keeping a running tab will help you not go over-budget and stick to what’s on the list.

Have a Family Meeting

For kids who are old enough to have a wish list, hold a family meeting to discuss gift priorities including tangible items and experiences. Set the expectation that your kids will not get everything on their list and some items can be saved for other times like birthdays and other holidays. Since your littlest family members may not be able to tell you what they want, take note of toys they gravitate towards at a friend’s house or daycare. These actions can help you select items that meet your baby’s interests.

Share Your Wish List

If you know grandparents and other family members will be buying holiday gifts for you and your kids, be specific about what everyone wants. This will take some of the burden off of budgeting for the holidays and will help everyone get what they really desire.

Draw Names

If you have a large extended family, group of friends or close co-workers, draw names and set a price limit rather than purchasing something for each person. This can help everyone’s budget and ensure each person gets something special of equal value.

Shop Smart

Now’s the time to pull out all of your budget shopping tricks including signing up for newsletter discounts, scouting coupons, using rebate websites and price checking everything for the best deal. Consider buying gently used items for your kids, who probably won’t know the difference.

Get Creative

Not all gifts have to be expensive. Gift experiences or DIY projects that allow your family to spend time together in a meaningful way. If you can make it rather than buy it, go that route this year.

Gift Necessities and Educational Items

If your kids are in need of new clothing, a new backpack or bed sheets that you were going to have to buy anyways, use the holidays as an opportunity to gift them instead. Perhaps you spring for something slightly more expensive with characters or designs that your kids like to make it a fun, yet useful, gift. The same can be true of gifts for adults – If you are your husband need a new bed, dining table or washing machine, make it a joint holiday present to one another rather than spending money on other items.

Give Charitably

Make a charitable donation in honor of each family member in lieu of one present you may have otherwise purchased. Let your family members select the charity of their choice to make it a special gift on their behalf.

That’s not all the advice we have on budgeting for the holidays! Tomorrow we’ll share even more tips for staying on budget this holiday season.

Sources: Huffington Post, The Today Show and Dave Ramsey