Holiday Spending: Budget Now, Benefit Later

It’s an almost iconic holiday scene. The entire family, eager to enjoy the festivities, gather together to make merry and relax, yet one lone figure can be seen scurrying about, tying ribbons, basting turkeys and trimming trees. Usually, this overworked person goes by the name of mom. She’s the one who makes The Big Day special for everyone else. Whether she started shopping last week or last January, she’s also the one whose doing the spending and of course, the budgeting. Can you say stress?

Money Matters

According to research findings from the University of Missouri Extension Building Families Program, running out of money each month can create conflict in even the strongest families, no matter what their income. And, no months of the year are more expensive than November and December, especially if a family budget for the holiday season has not been created or adhered to. Even with the holidays right around the corner, a stress-busting solution might be easier than you think.

Share the Budget, Share the Joy

It may be true that the family who saves together, slaves together, but it’s also true that shared responsibilities reduce stress for everyone. This holiday season, consider getting the entire family together to create a financial holiday survival guide. By identifying what you need to make the season special, you can also determine if your finances will fall short and where you need to cut corners.

Think Before You Spend

A wonderful holiday does not require tons of cash to be special and certainly shouldn’t throw your family into debt. Before you reach for the plastic, ask yourself:

  • How many presents do each of us really need and must they be top-of-the-line or will less expensive items do?
  • Given how beautifully everything is decorated this time of year, can we go to a budget-friendly restaurant instead of an expensive one and still enjoy ourselves?
  • Can we make do with decorations we already have on hand?
  • Can we make gifts and decorations ourselves as a group project, instead of buying them?
  • Where can we save money all year so that we don’t need to charge any items?

Most importantly, ask yourselves, what is the true value of the holidays and what will it really take for your family to enjoy them?

You’re Never Too Young to Spend – Or Save

All children deserve to feel special during the holidays but that doesn’t mean they need to get every toy in the store, or you’re a bad parent. Involve your kids in budgeting, no matter what their age, so that they have a stake in the family’s festivities. Children pick up on their parent’s stress and worry, especially about money matters. Avoid making them feel guilty for wanting things and  make budgeting a game they can participate in. This is a really good way to reduce stress for everyone, and bolster their value system, too.

The Benefits of a Holiday Budget

The most wonderful time of the year can also be the hardest. By sharing and keeping to a holiday budget, the entire family can participate and feel strong, knowing that its financial future is being protected. Budgeting is an accomplishment and a gift unto itself.