December can be an expensive month for Albertans, and it can wreak havoc on the monthly budget. So how can you give like Santa without going to the poor house like Tiny Tim?
First, a holiday budget should include ALL your expenses. Often the biggest holiday spending culprits aren't just the gifts you put under the tree, there are also the annual get-togethers with friends, tickets for raffles around the office to support local charities, teacher gifts, bus driver gifts, Secret Santa events in the workplace and so on...and on...and on!
Here are five ways to create a budget and still be merry!
Rethink your list
Make a list of who you have to shop for and ask yourself if you're really expected to buy a gift for them or spend as much as you did last year. Would a handmade gift or an invite over for dinner mean just as much? Sometimes a handwritten note to the teacher about what your child likes in the class means just as much as another notepad or coffee mug. Consider cutting back on gifts to extended family and invite them for dinner in the New Year. Another way to get more for your money is to coordinate a group gift for someone you want to buy for. Rally the rest of the family or the neighbourhood—it may cut down the cost for everyone and result in a generous gift the recipient will remember for years to come.
Map out all the events and activities
Get out your calendar and make a list of all your holiday events. After writing them out and adding up their costs, you may want to reconsider some RSVPs and create a budget for the rest.
Don’t forget your favourite charities
Part of holiday giving includes helping out those who can’t afford a table decked out with all the trimmings and a tree drowning in presents. Make sure to include an item in your budget for helping others. Maybe your gift to a friend is donating to their favourite charity. You can make that donation go further by using atbcares.com to donate. ATB matches 15 per cent of every dollar donated to eligible Alberta charities (up to $150,000). And you'll get a tax receipt too!
Don't let hosting blow your budget
Budgeting for all the holiday baking, appetizers, and treats can eat up a huge amount of your budget. Rather than dish out the entire Christmas dinner on your own dime, go potluck style. When someone asks what they can bring, take them up on their offer to help.
Track your spending
Even if it’s just on a napkin in your wallet, each time you hit the stores for gifts or entertaining, write down your costs with a little explanation of what was included.
If you want to go a little more high tech, you can use ATB TrackIt in your online banking to create a budget. Then monitor your spending on the go with the TrackIt mobile app to see where your holiday budget is maxed out.
By following these 5 tips and sticking to your holiday budget, you’ll ensure happy holidays for you and your loved ones—without breaking the bank.