Do you want to know another reason why I love December so much? Aside from Christmas and all the festive-wonderfulness?
It may seem odd, but I love that it’s almost January.
January, for me, is the beginning of all things new. A new year. New goals. New resolutions. New budgets. New excuses to get things organized!
And now that our Christmas shopping is coming to a close and the last bit of our 2013 gift fund is being spent, I’m getting close to jumping into our new 2014 budget. And that’s exciting!
Today, I’m going to share a few budgeting secrets for developing a working Gift Budget.
1) Get both your husband and yourself on the same page.
Don’t take the ‘financial reigns’ away from your husband. Especially if your husband is bringing in the paychecks, it follows that he should have a large input in how it’s spent. Each year, my husband and I sit down together and decide who we need to buy for. Some guys could care less and will happily pass that responsibility onto you. Others might care a bit more. Either way, be sure you align your priorities as much as possible.
2) Make a list.
Why? Because LISTS ARE AWESOME! Lists are an amazing tool for getting the big picture and organizing large-scale things into smaller, more manageable bites!
Make a list of every family member or friend that you’d like to give a gift to this year. Include both birthday and Christmas gifts. If you know of any weddings or baby showers on the horizon, include those as well.
3) Make a budget for EACH GIFT.
In the past, we’ve tried setting a month-by-month spending goal for our gifts. This has never been successful.
We would have months where only one or two lucky people needed gifts (and those lucky ducks got large, nice ones). Then we’d have a month where there were five birthdays, two baby showers, and a wedding. We had to choose between getting everyone tiny, modest gifts (Here’s a pair of socks for your little one! Congratulations!) or inevitably overspending.
Instead, what has worked better for us is to budget a specific amount for each person ahead of time. ‘This amount’ for closer family members, ‘this amount’ for friends, ‘this amount’ for acquaintances, etc.
4) Buy gifts ahead of time.
Part of why I like having my budget nailed down in December, is because January is a GREAT time to go shopping. Seriously. With all those left-over holiday deals and nobody buying them (because they’re all broke from Christmas), if you are part of the lucky few who planned ahead and budgeted, you can get some killer deals! I’ve had better luck shopping the weeks after Christmas than I have on Black Friday, and it’s not nearly as crowded!
And if you’re already getting killer deals, why not stock up? Bring your Birthday and Christmas list for the whole year into the store with you. Check off as much as you can ahead of time while it’s discounted. It’s an amazing feeling to have the bulk of your shopping done within the first few weeks or the year!
5) Keep that list handy.
Have that Masterlist somewhere you can refer to it often. (I keep mine in my Home Management Binder). Record what you have already bought, what you still need to buy, and how much you’re willing to spend on it.
If you have a month-by-month to-do-list, get into the habit of nailing down everyone’s gifts a month ahead of time. Last-minute shopping is a terrible budget killer and knowing you won’t be surprised last minute is a great stress-reliever.
Does your family have a working system for gift budgets? I’d love to hear about it!
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