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How To Create Your Christmas Budget
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An important part of having a great Christmas season is planning a budget. It's so easy to get caught up in the happiness and joy that fill the season with new decorations for the home and yard, as well as the feeling that you need to buy gifts for practically everyone you know, that many of us spend more than we can afford.

Many people get so caught up in the season, that by the time Christmas rolls around again, they are still paying the bills from last Christmas. Don’t let this hardship follow you. Creating a Christmas budget is the best means to truly enjoy the season.

1) Sign Up To A Christmas Savings Program

Many banking institutions offer a Christmas savings program, especially local credit unions. By putting a little money aside each month from your paycheck, you will grow a savings cushion, only used for the holiday season. Of course, the sooner you start this savings account, the more money you'll have to spend, in December.

By saving money throughout the year, you are more likely to spend within your means, and avoid getting into financial hardship. The amount you have saved will coincide with your budget limit, and allow you to pay for items in cash. The money you have left over, can also be used to start your savings for next season.

2) Set Your Budget Limit

If you don’t set limits to your budget, based on what you can afford, for Christmas gifts, cards, decorations, and social gatherings, you are more likely to overspend beyond your means. Why? Because you're more likely to rely on a credit card.

Set your budget limit based on what you can afford to pay in cash. If you can’t afford to pay for holiday items with cash, then you may need to take another look at what you truly need to buy. Remember, your budget includes decorations, Christmas dinner or other Christmas parties, and Christmas cards.

3) Create a Gift and Expenditure List

Once you have a budget, you can create a gift list to include all your family and friends that you would like to buy a Christmas gift for. When starting your list, write down everyone that comes to your mind and set a limit on how much you will spend for each person. Add up the total. If it's over your budget amount, start reducing the list.

Even consider combining gifts into one family gift, eliminating the cost of purchasing multiple gifts, which can keep you within budget without eliminating names from your list. And don't forget your Christmas decorations - if they're still durable and pretty, keep using them. You don’t need the latest decorations to create the warmth of Christmas in your home.

4) Keep Track of Your Spending

As you buy gifts, grab-bag gifts for parties, and food for Christmas dinner or other social gatherings, keep track of what you are spending. This is the only way you can stay on budget. At every given moment, you need to know how much you've spent, and how much you have left to spend.

By keeping track of your spending, it's easier to budget by maybe spending less in one area, and more in another. Maybe making your own Christmas cards to save money so you can attend more Christmas parties. The creativity is up to you, as long as you have fun and remember to only spend within your means.


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