21 Nov How to NOT Blow Your Budget Through the Holidays!
WRITTEN BY: Casey Hagy
The holiday season can be an exciting time of year…but also one of the most stressful. With so many parties to attend, decorations to put up, and gifts to buy for your friends and family, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and overspend!
Anyone who has joined a Financial Peace University (FPU) J-Group with me, or knows me at all, knows I’m OBSESSED with a good budget! With the holiday season right around the corner, it’s more important than ever to make and stick to a budget.
Here are three tips to help you maintain control over your finances this holiday season:
1. Create a Christmas budget…and stick to it. The most effective Christmas budget actually starts in January! At the beginning of 2023, make a list (just like Santa) of all the people you intend to buy Christmas gifts for. Decide how much you plan to spend on each person and come up with a total estimated cost. Divide that total cost by 12 and set aside that amount each month toward your Christmas fund. By the end of the year, you’ll be able to buy all your Christmas gifts in CASH!
If you haven’t done that yet this year, it’s not too late. Make your list and figure out how much money you can afford to spend on Christmas gifts this year. Consider tweaking other budget categories to free up some money for your Christmas budget. (That daily Starbucks trip really adds up!) If you’re trying to cut down on the cost of gifts, consider some of the following: skip the random gift exchange at work, draw names instead of buying a gift for every person in your family or friend group, shop sales (black Friday is coming!), and/or consider gifting a DIY homemade present or baked good.
2. Don’t go into debt to buy Christmas presents. Unfortunately, we live in a materialistic, consumeristic society that has made racking up credit card debt the norm. Christmas gifts are not a necessity, nor are they an emergency. As the creator of the FPU, Dave Ramsey, would say, “Let’s not be normal, let’s be weird and avoid debt!” I urge you NOT to buy Christmas gifts with a credit card. Your family and friends would rather you have peace than the stress, anxiety, and shame that credit card debt can bring. You don’t have to spend a bunch of money to show someone how much they mean to you. One of the best gifts I’ve ever received was a handwritten, thoughtful letter from a fellow Journeyer. It cost them $0 and had a huge impact on me.
3. Remain grateful. During the holiday season, it can be tempting to compare ourselves and our financial situations to others. Let’s not get caught in this comparison trap. The cure for comparison is contentment, and gratitude will lead us there. Being grateful for what we have does not have to go away after Thanksgiving. This year try to bring an attitude of gratitude into the Christmas season. When we focus on the true meaning of Christmas—God entering our world to pave the way for a real relationship with him—it drives out the temptation to compare ourselves to others. In him, we have everything we need.
Giving is the most fun you can have with money. We are created in the image of a compassionate and generous God. It makes sense that we would desire to be generous too! However, our Father also calls us to be wise with our finances. Involve God in your holiday budget and ask him how to best manage his resources so you do NOT blow your budget this holiday season. Not sure where or how to start? Here are some possible next steps: 1) read “Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey 2) check out resources, articles, and free tools available on ramseysolutions.com and 3) consider joining an FPU (Financial Peace University) J-Group next semester!
Casey Hagy/Admin J-Teamer
Casey Hagy has been attending The Journey for ten years. She serves on the counting team and enjoys leading J-Groups (especially FPU!) with her husband Brent Hagy. She is passionate about helping people become better stewards of their money and find true financial freedom and peace.