Here are links to Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 if you would like to catch up. Each post is a shorter read and very actionable. Enjoy!

In order to make sure that Christmas is not a mess financially, it’s important to have a plan. We aren’t talking about anything major here. We want to make it brief but effective. The reason for this is because when we think of planning for Christmas, we are usually only thinking about Christmas gifts and how to better plan for those. There are things that we spend money on in addition to the Christmas gifts. Here are some additional things to plan for financially when it comes to Christmas.

Christmas Groceries

Do you have people that come in to town and stay with you during the holidays? Do you go to a family party and always bring a plate of food to pass around? Something that might go up in the month of December is your Grocery bill. But not to worry! This is something that can be planned for!

Say you spend an extra $150 on groceries due to needing to bring something to a party or have the house fully stocked for company. Then just divide that by the other 11 months in the year. Rounded up you only need to save $14 a month to not feel that sting at all after the holidays.

Christmas Dining Out

Something that is really easy to do when Christmas shopping is eating out more. This is something I’m trying to work on myself. My dining out budget usually at least doubles during the holiday season. Let’s face it. It’s really easy to grab about to eat when you’ve been out shopping all day. After all, who wants to break to go home for lunch and dinner only to go back out shopping again? Another problem is if you have young kids who go to bed early like I do, there isn’t a lot of time to prepare a meal at home (even a quick one) and then go out shopping. That translates into more eating out.

Again, this is something else you can plan for. You have a couple options here. One is to take the suggestion above and divide the extra amount you spend on eating out in December by 11 (the other months). This breaks it up so you aren’t feeling it in your bank account only in the month of December.

The other is to plan differently and not actually go out to eat. You don’t have to start planning meals or shopping times this early. When it’s closer to the season, however, it might be a good idea to plan other times to go shopping rather than during meal times. A suggestion I have is to definitely start early. Besides what was outlined in Part 1 of this series, it leaves a lot of time to actually do the Christmas shopping. This allows you to plan shorter trips out. A Saturday trip right after eating lunch at home for a few hours still gives you enough time to be home to make some dinner. And if you are out only for a few hours, you are less likely to be fatigued and have no motivation to actually cook. This saves you from eating out potentially two meals in one trip!

Time-wise, this also allows you to go out after dinner during the week instead of going out to dinner followed by shopping. Planning for eating out (or for not eating out) is a great way to plan something different for the holidays.

Plan for Different Christmas Gifts

If you aren’t planning for Christmas, there is non chance to think about what someone would really want. It’s a mad dash to either run out and get gift cards, or run out on overspend on things you think they want.

I recommend planning for some Christmas gifts that may be out of the norm. This can save you money and stress. For instance, you can decide to make something for someone when you are planning in July. this gives you almost 6 months to make it and plan what materials you need. That way you are not overspending on materials either.

You could also do something for someone. A great gift would be going over to someone’s house to clean up their home. This would only cost about $10 worth of cleaners (if you don’t have them on hand already) and be a huge blessing for the recipient.

Planning for Christmas is a huge opportunity to feel better after Christmas. We usually start planning and shopping in July. However, for 2015 that didn’t happen for some reason. I can definitely say the feeling is different. It was definitely more stressful during the holidays. This can translate in to being glad the holidays are over rather than grateful for what it was.

I encourage you to plan!