Keeping up with the holiday theme, let’s talk about something people don’t like to talk about: budgeting. Ideally, we budget regularly throughout the year, but now is the time where we have to budget. Well, maybe not all of us, but I sure have to. In the last post, I let it slip that the kid count for my family is 18! My partner comes from a large family! So, a friend of mine asked, how do I save money for Christmas? Uh, yeah I have to budget and trust me, I’ve found some interesting but easy budgeting hacks.
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- What are easy budgeting hacks to save money in time for Christmas?
What are easy budgeting hacks to save money in time for Christmas?
Over the years, I have tried, failed, and succeeded. Listed below are the easy budgeting hacks that worked for me.
1.) Start Saving Money Early
It should go without saying: don’t buy Christmas presents on Christmas Eve with twenty dollars in your pocket. So, how early should you start? That depends on a variety of factors, but the biggest word of advice: the earlier you start, the less you put away each time. For example, last year, I started saving around September with a goal of $1000. In order to reach my goal, each week I set aside about $50. However, this year I started closer to July, which meant only $40 a week was needed to reach my goal. As funny as it might sound, I intend to my Christmas savings next year in January. Twenty dollars a week will bring me to my goal of $1000 and will allow me to save even more throughout the year.
2.) Use and Handle Cash
I think this one is important for today. We’re all about the plastic and online shopping. Don’t get me wrong, I’m guilty of this as well, but I do attempt to use primarily cash. It truly helps limit your spending. We watch the money literally dwindle in our hands; unlike ignoring an app, which we check later that night only to see -$75 in the account. Whoops! Whenever you can, use cash, or even resort back to writing checks! Taking the time to intimately and routinely know our finances will help us become more aware.
3.) Put Savings Away Weekly/by Paycheck
This has been my most useful tool, especially since I work with cash. I’ve developed an envelope system that works amazingly for me! It can be a little tedious, especially if you have a lot of bills to organize, but once you get into a routine, it’s worth it. It’s pretty simple: take the amount and divide by the weeks you have to pay. For example, if a bill is $200 and it’s due monthly, divide by 4. Your number is 50, each week you put $50 away for that bill. Budgeting and goals work similarly. If there’s 12 weeks until you plan to shop for Christmas and your goal is $1000. 1000/12 = 83.33. I prefer to round up, so I would put away $85 a week.
In order to avoid having “extra” money in the account, I strongly suggest you do this on the or the day after you receive your paycheck and you take away based on your schedule. For example, if you’re paid bi-weekly, you would put away two weeks’ worth of bills when you receive your check. After organizing all the money for the week(s), you’ll know exactly how much you have left to splurge with.
4.) Put Extra Money Away, Take Advantage of “Extra Pay Checks”
This one is by far my favorite. Did you realize that some months we get paid for a fifth week? Go double check your calendar and line up your pay schedule. It doesn’t matter if you get paid bi-weekly or even bi-monthly, every couple of months our paychecks are a little higher! If you’re following the weekly model, you’ll realize this quickly.
There will be months you’ll already have enough money for your bills and savings; however, the trick is to treat that week the same as every other. I also mentioned that I round up when setting up my budgets. When it comes time for withdrawals and deposits, I leave the extra money in the envelope. Over the course of the year, between rounding up and fifth weeks, you’ll could be a month or more ahead in each of your bills!
5.) Keep a Budgeting Log/Track Everything
This is annoying, no doubt. However, it’s good to have everything all in one place and to record as much as you can. Consider using a budgeting planner to help stay organized. Dedicate time each week to review your purchases and SAVE THE RECEIPTS. This can be very helpful around tax time, especially if you run your own businesses. If you’re interested in the weekly budgeting system I have created, look at our Etsy shop to find our weekly budgeting printable. It’s easy to follow and will help you get on track with your finances quickly!
The truth is, budgeting is difficult. It takes time, routine, effort and, of course, money. Hopefully, these five tips will help give you some ideas on where to start. We’d love to hear from you, we’re always looking for more ways to save money. Are there any tips that we’ve missed? Drop a comment below to share the ways you budget for the holidays!