Christmas Budgeting in July

Starting holiday shopping now is a great way to ensure you avoid end of year debt.

On Monday on Consolidated Credit, I wrote about how celebrating Christmas in July is just one more excuse to spend money that you don’t need. What is useful is starting Christmas Budgeting in July, because it gives you enough time to avoid winter holiday debt.

You have 10-12 paychecks left before Christmas

We counted this out:

  1. If you get paid on the 1st and 15th of every month, then you have 10 paychecks left before Santa arrives.
  2. On the other hand, if you are paid bi-weekly, then you have 11-12 paychecks left before Christmas. It depends on how your bi-weekly schedule falls.

In any case, that gives you enough time to start saving up for holiday spending so you can avoid debt. If you start setting aside money now, you should be able to avoid pulling out your credit cards this season.

Starting 2018 without the burden of paying off holiday debt could ease your financial stress greatly. So, we wanted to give you some more tips for Christmas Budgeting in July so you can make effective plans for a debt-free holiday.

5 tips for trimming your holiday budget costs now

#1: Spread big-ticket purchases out

In many families, each person gets one big gift per year, maybe plus some little gifts. These days, “big gifts” can end up costing several hundred dollars. If you buy your daughter a new iPhone or get your son a new TomTom fitness watch, you could end up dropping a few hundred bucks on each family gift.

In a four-person family, a $200 big-ticket gift limit still means you spend $800 on gifts, at minimum. That’s a huge burden to place on your budget at the end of the year. And it often means you pull out plastic to cover the expense, leading to debt.

A better strategy is to buy one big-ticket item each month starting now so you get them out of the way. Buy a new tablet for your husband in August, the iPhone in September and the TomTom October. All your big purchases are now out of the way before Halloween.

#2: Start setting up swaps with friends now

If you don’t want to use the same decorations this year that you used last year, set up a decoration swap with your friends. You can even make an event out of it and host a cheap swap party at your house. Everyone brings over the items they’re willing to trade (or emails pictures). Then your group of friends trades their decorations off.

Of course, you’ll all know you did the swap, but your other friends, family and neighbors won’t. Everyone on your block will assume the stuff is new instead of borrowed or traded. You keep up with the decorating Joneses on your block without incurring any new costs to do it.

#3: Get your kids crafting early

Handmade gifts are a great way to keep gift costs low and you can get the kids involved. They can make decorated flower pots, picture frames or albums, jewelry and just general tchotchke. It adds a personalized touch and allows you to avoid throwing money away on gifts for people like bosses, coworkers, teachers, coaches and neighbors.

The only problem with holiday craft projects is that people usually start them too late. If you start now, you have time for re-dos and touch-ups. You don’t have to stress (or stress your kids) to make great handmade gifts the day you hand them out.

You can also do the same thing with handmade decorations, too. Either way, more time means less stress and more opportunities to make special, unique items that truly shine.

#4: Don’t delay gathering for gift baskets

Gift baskets are another awesome way to avoid higher holiday gift costs. You buy a few cheap baskets, fill them with bulk products, then wrap in cellophane and hand them out. The only issue is usually buying in bulk on top of all your other holiday expenses.

It’s a much better strategy to buy the gift baskets and basket decorations now. Then start planning what you want the fillers to be. Buy a few fillers every time you hit the store. By the time the holiday season rolls around, you’ll have everything you need to build your baskets. You’ll also have plenty of time to personalize and make each basket a little unique for the recipient.

For more holiday budgeting tips, visit Consolidated Credit Debt-Free Holiday Survival Guide.