Sing it if you know it: “On the eighth week ‘til Christmas, my true love gave to me a plan to spend responsibly!”
Not part of your family’s holiday songbook? It should be. The most wonderful time of year can also be the most stressful if you charge into the month without a financial budget to guide your spending. We’ve broken down an eight-week timeline so you can spread your holiday cheer a little farther this year, courtesy of your friends at Raccoon Valley Bank:
Eight Weeks Before: Start talking about your holiday plan. What makes sense for everyone’s budgets? Is it time to start a new tradition? Planning this far out means you have time to get creative with gifts rather than scrambling – and burning cash – last minute.
Seven Weeks Before: Sit down with your calendar and figure out what parties you’ll most likely attend and how much you plan to spend on them total. Finalize your holiday spending budget (decorations, gift wrap, party favors, etc.) and stick to it.
Six Weeks Before: Travel costs skyrocket as the Big Day approaches, so book hotels and map your route now. Revise your gift list, and keep your eye open for ways to earn a little extra cash if you need help fulfilling that list.
Five Weeks Before: Start stocking and storing grocery store sales now to avoid last-minute price hikes. Look at your original list from Week Eight, and if you’ve dropped any plans – parties, trips, gifts, etc. – reallocate funds to other holiday ventures or back into your wallet.
Four Weeks Before: Save yourself time in line by wrapping and shipping packages and Christmas cards now. As you make purchases, keep track of them to a “t” on a running tally sheet to keep yourself in check, and avoid credit card purchase if you can help it – the temptation to overspend is just too great otherwise.
Three Weeks Before: If you have to use a credit card, pick the one that carries the lowest interest and stick to that card only. Double check your holiday budget, and if you’ve overspent in some categories, deduct from others now when you still have a chance.
Two Weeks Before: It’s the holiday season – soak it all up! Check the newspaper for local community activities, concerts, and events that are usually discounted if not free. Then reduce, reuse, and recycle by wrapping gifts with that newspaper (if you don’t already have paper you bought on sale at the end of last holiday season.)
One Week Before: Finalize your holiday meal plan and complete your shopping now rather than during the insane hustle and bustle day-before. Triple check your planning list to make all gifts have been purchased.
The Week Of: Relax – you’ve earned it.
Following this holiday to-do list can help you avoid the stress of the season. For financial planning help heading into the New Year and beyond, give us a call – we’d love to help!
Raccoon Valley Bank, Equal Housing Lender, Member FDIC