The Anti-Grinch's Holiday Budget
Just by conducting a simple and quick Google search, one can find countless articles on Holiday budgeting and its importance. However, they all essentially convey the same message of creating a budget and monitoring your dollars, but they often do not take into consideration that it is hard to change your mindset and bad habits [even when you know that it is the correct thing to do]. Unfortunately, I have not read many that actually address the reasons people create budgets and hardly ever stick to them; along with setting attainable and trackable goals.
We all have our underlying issues as to why we slowly or quickly dismiss being fiscally savvy and conscious. If you have not figured out the whys, I hope this article can help to shed some light on those inner conflicts. I think that it goes without saying that a budget is only as effective as you want it to be. You have to will yourself to create it, abide by it, and render it purposeful when those urges and temptations come your way. I have listed some tips below that may help you with your budget plans.
All contributors to the household’s budget have to be in agreement. It will be almost impossible to create a budget when only one decision maker's voice is being heard. Even if the other party is not a huge contributor it is only fair to get their insight, so that the budget is reflective of everyone. It is much easier to enforce a budget when everyone is on board and understand its purpose along with the end goal(s).
Give yourself enough time to develop the plan, discipline yourself accordingly, and then implement it. A random budget tends to be pushed to the side a lot quicker than a budget that is deliberate and thoughtfully planned out. If you are anything like me, it is perfectly okay to take baby steps until you are ready to dive completely in. Going cold turkey on some things is an easy way to get settled back into your old ways and bad habits when something goes against your plans.
Be realistic. It is okay to get inspiration and tips from others; however, your budget has to be tailored to your specific situation and desired goals.
Have a positive attitude going into it. There are so many negative attachments to the word budget. No one should be able to make you feel as if you are doing anything wrong by taking control of your finances.
Save room for miscellaneous expenses, incidentals, and/ or any other last minute inevitable. I like to have a little wiggle room, so instead of allocating every dollar to bills, savings, and whatever else that is pertinent have a section just for the what ifs. Car breakdowns happen, household items have to be replaced, etc. so you definitely want to build up a cushion (outside of your savings) just for those mishaps.
Have an accountability partner(s). Having someone to remind you when you are veering off the path is only as effective as you allow it to be. Defensiveness and avoidance will keep you in this terrible cycle, so make sure you choose someone who opinions you trust and value.
Adjust the budget only when absolutely necessary. Life changes daily. An unexpected pay raise, bonus, promotion, etc. can come and be a ray of sunshine; however, it is important to evaluate how best to spend [or not spend] the extra income. On the other end of the spectrum, a layoff, demotion, unexpected major expenses can arise that can cause the current budget to become harder to maintain. It is important to address the situations and take action.
Do not be afraid or ashamed to re-purpose, reuse, borrow, and DIY [Do It Yourself]. Everything does not have to be brand new or cost over a certain amount of money to be perceived in a positive way. Decorations, for example, can be put into all of the above categories. If you do not have one already, I strongly encourage you to sign up for a free Pinterest account for inspiration and simple to follow projects.
Find ways to lessen your personal costs. If you love to host and entertain give your guests an opportunity to chip in. Allow them to bring their special dishes so that you will not be responsible for all of the cooking and grocery shopping. If you are adamant about cooking, have them to donate a few dollars towards the "Thanksgiving/ Christmas Food Budget." Also, you can let someone else take on the responsibility of entertaining and hosting for that year, so that you can give your household a break. Instead of trying to buy for everyone, how about doing Secret Santa with a spending limit?
Take advantage of huge discounts and savings by shopping at the end of that season for the following year(s). The emails are endless, the signs are vibrant, we all know the holiday season brings about some of the better deals. Take advantage of the potential savings by having a list so that you can price compare and minimize your chances of window shopping/ over spending.
Do you value peace of mind more or instant gratification; a budget is only as effective as you desire it to be? Of course, life happens, so it is important to go in with a mindset of purpose and discipline. The moment you set a goal, your perseverance will be challenged and it will either make you stronger or will cripple you. “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty,” Proverbs 21:5 (NIV).