The work budget can strike terror into the hearts of most people. But in this day and age of recession, job loss and general tightening of the belts, we have to be able to budget. And the holidays is one time when most people don’t bother, then find themselves paying for their holidays for months afterward.
Holiday budgeting is nothing to be afraid of. It is necessary if you are going to have a simple and guilt-free holiday. Well, guilt-free on the spending front.
Setting Up A Master Budget
This doesn’t have to be fancy. You’re simply going to create a budget for each section of the binder, then roll the totals into a front page. You can do this on paper or in a spreadsheet.
On the master budget page, you are going to put down the categories as follows:
Leave room to the right for both projected and actual numbers.
Setting Up Sub-Budgets
For each of the other sections, you’ll make a more detailed budget. This requires a bit of thinking, but should be fairly easy. Remember, budgets are projections. They are not actual money.
Most people spend the most amount of money on holiday gifts. Make a list of everyone you will buy gifts for. Include tips to service people and gifts to charities. Here are examples:
- Extended family
- Bus Drivers
- Childcare Workers
You will need to add on two more categories:
Decorations will vary depending on the holiday(s) you celebrate. Make a list of the categories of expenses you have:
- Yule Log
The holiday season is not a time to undergo major renovations. Things like carpet cleaning, piano tuning and maid services might be needed. List them if you need them.
These are the expenses for sending out cards, letters, thank you notes, invitations and such. Also include phone charges if you incur them (overseas, for example).
Do you host parties during the season? Here are some expenses to think of:
- Services (servers, bartenders, etc)
Do you need to get clothing for anything? Include costume expenses for the inevitable pageants.
If you will travel during the holidays, include expenses for transportation and lodging.
Expenses for concerts, plays, and other activities should be listed here. Include babysitting expenses for company parties.
Much of my holiday budget (after gifts) revolves around food. For each holiday meal, figure out how much to allot. Include main courses, side dishes, beverages and desserts.
Wow! That’s A Lot !
Every time I do this exercise, I end up having a jaw-hitting-the-floor moment. The holidays can take a lot of money. There are many ways to cut expenses that I will not go into here for brevity’s sake. But look through your expenses and see if there are areas you can cut back or do differently. The aim for having a budget is to not be paying for the holidays for months to come.
Photo by topher76