I have never been a big spender, but I have spent Christmases where our family had very little to give.
During those seasons, we had two choices–either make homemade gifts or not give at all. Most years, we did a combination of both (only giving to the ministries/charities we chose to support and making homemade for close family but not giving to extended family members or friends).
Regardless, we had to set a budget and stick to it.
I have heard stories of families who spend so extravagantly during the Christmas season that they are miserably in debt the rest of the year.
The spirit of giving here is commendable, but I seriously doubt your friends and family members want you going into financial distress in order to buy presents, when they probably care more about you and your relationship than any material possessions you could give.
It’s way too easy to overspend during this season. Especially with so many stores and businesses slashing their prices to meet end-of-year sales goals themselves, the temptation can get overwhelming.
Why not give yourself a Christmas spending pulse check sometime between Thanksgiving and mid-December?
You can avoid Christmas debt by setting a budget and spending wisely!
6 Ideas for Giving Yourself a Christmas Spending Pulse Check
1. Check your Christmas list.
How many more people on your list need gifts? Have you added more people to your list since you first made it?
(For example, maybe you didn’t realize your child has an assistant teacher in her class, and you don’t want to leave this person out!)
Make a list of those you still need to buy for, and scribble down some gift ideas.
My husband and I keep things in check by only buying three gifts for each of our daughters. Here is what we gave them last year.
2. Check your Christmas budget.
Hopefully you set a Christmas budget before the season began, but, if not, it’s never too late to do so!
Now is the time to check over your budget and see how you are doing. Have you already exhausted your Christmas budget, or do you still have some wiggle room?
Using your list of people who need gifts, write down an approximate budget of how much you can spend on each person.
3. Make a back-up plan.
So what happens if your list of people to buy for is longer than your budget allows? Now is the time to get creative with a back-up plan!
If you have already used up most of your budget and you still have people on your list, break out the homemade gift ideas. Check this post for 10 homemade Christmas gift ideas!
4. Don’t forget charities.
Does your family have a heart for giving to those in need? My family likes to choose a charity or ministry to give to during the Christmas season.
Make sure you have included this in your Christmas budget, and if you have already exhausted it, it might be time to reach out to another family who may want to join you in splitting the cost supporting someone in need.
If finances are tight, check out these ideas for giving to others even while living on a tight budget.
5. Decide how you will spend Christmas cash from others.
Not everyone will have this luxury, but our family knows that my husband’s grandparents and parents usually prefer to give us cash to spend on our girls instead of picking out gifts themselves.
When our girls were really little, we simply used the cash to buy them presents from their grandparents. But then we started seeing how they had way too many toys (even with our personal 3-gift limit), so we decided to take most of this money and start building up an education fund for them.
It is your business what you do with any gifts of cash, but it’s a good idea to have a plan in place.
6. Set yourself a deadline.
I am a very deadline-oriented person, but I also have a tendency to fly by the seat of my pants if I don’t have a deadline set! I cannot tell you the number of Christmas eves I’ve had to run out to the store to purchase a last-minute gift!
Set yourself a deadline to have all of your shopping complete (preferably the sooner the better!), and then sit back, relax and enjoy the holidays!
How do you keep your Christmas spending in check? Have you ever thought about giving yourself a Christmas spending pulse check?
At SunTrust Bank their purpose is lighting the way to financial well-being. They want to help you reduce holiday stress through tools, advice, and inspiration that encourages you to make your holidays meaningful by spending within your means and focusing on meaningful experiences. Check out their holiday planning guide here. Check out more inspiration for staying meaningful within your means here.
To get started visit suntrust.com/holiday.
Meaningful spending made easy with a budgeting tool to help you make a plan and stay on track with your holiday spending. Download here.
This is a conversation written by me on and underwritten by SunTrust. The opinions and text are all mine.