Every year I plan to have a frugal Christmas. I set my budget. I schedule inexpensive activities. Nevertheless, a few days before the holiday hits, I feel a bit of a panic. If I’m not careful, this can lead to last-minute spending that busts the budget and ruins my intentions. It never feels good when this happens, so I’ve rounded up some frugal Christmas tips to help prevent the problem this year and in the years to come.
Be Aware of Holiday Emotions
I tend to engage in last-minute spending because I get overwhelmed by holiday emotions. It’s a busy time of year, so we are all tired and stressed. This depletes our energy reserves. Therefore, we become more likely to get overtaken by our emotions.
For example, I start to get insecure that people won’t actually like the frugal Christmas gifts I’ve already made for them. That’s how I end up at the store on the day before Christmas, spending far too much money on new gifts. If I were in my right frame of mind, I would know that my friends and family love me for who I am, not for what I gift them. However, with my defenses down because of holiday emotions, I crash into bad spending habits.
It’s not just negative emotions that can trigger holiday spending. Sometimes the ebullient joy of the season can make us forget our plans for a frugal Christmas. We start to have so much fun that we spend without thinking about it.
That’s why it is so important to be aware of our own emotions during the holidays. Take a moment before doing any shopping. Ask yourself why you’re spending, what you’re feeling, and if this action is truly in line with your holiday values.
Set a Daily Budget to Maintain a Frugal Christmas
I don’t usually need a daily budget for my life. I’m happy to typically have a monthly budget. That way, I have the flexibility of spending a little bit more on an indulgence this week as long as I scale back next week. If the last week of the month has to be particularly frugal because I overspent in the early weeks, that’s okay.
However, that doesn’t work for me as the year comes to a close. In fact, for the entire fourth quarter of the year, I switch to a weekly budget, rather than a monthly one. In December – especially in the last two weeks of the year – I stick to a daily budget.
The numbers may work out the same. For example, if my monthly budget is $1000, then my weekly budget is $250. If my weekly budget is $250, then my daily budget is approximately $35. However, by restricting myself to the daily amount, I lessen the chances of going over. It’s just all too easy in December to spend $100 today and $100 tomorrow and suddenly the whole week’s budget is gone.
The great thing about a daily budget is that you can begin again today. Therefore, if you haven’t quite stuck to your frugal Christmas plans, you’re not at a total loss. You can look at your remaining budget for the year and plan your daily budget accordingly starting right now.
Focus on New Year’s Goals Before Christmas
Most people start thinking about their New Year’s resolutions right around the first of the year. However, I actually like to start planning mine in early December. This helps me to really focus on the things that matter to me. In turn, I’m able to stick to frugal Christmas plans because my mind is on the bigger picture of what I want for my life.
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