If you’d like to read the first two parts of this series, they can be found here (Part 1) and here (Part 2).

Starting early and finding some extra money are some great ways to help with the Christmas season and making it less stressful on the pocketbook. However, sometimes you have to take a hard look at reality as well.

Is the month of January (and potentially later months) a little rough every year because of Christmas? Does the amount of money you spend keep you from other financial goals? Are you spending too much on relatives and friends?

These sorts of questions stink to face but they are great for determine what’s going on in your financial life around Christmas time. If you are spending too much on Christmas gifts, and therefore having a hard time recovering months after Christmas, it’s time to rethink and face the issue

I want to encourage you to look at your financial life now before next Christmas so you can make some adjustments. If you are struggling financially and finding it tough to make ends meet throughout the year, then buying Christmas gifts that are large and expensive is only going to make things worse. In other words, if you are struggling financially, your child does not need that shiny new laptop. Try making something for someone instead or taking them out for a meal. Another option is to do some sort of grab bag or secret santa. This will cut down costs significantly as you will only be buying for one or two people. Remember, the most important part of the holidays is being able to spend time with your loved ones.

If you are overspending on Christmas yet do not struggle to make ends meet throughout the year, think about what types of goals that takes away from? What else could that money be used for? I recommend cutting back and tracking what you spend. Then with the difference, you could have money left over to pay off some debt, take a family vacation, or give back to the community, charitable organization, or church.

Even if you are using part 2 of this series to bring in some extra cash, you don’t have to use it for Christmas. The ideas presented in there are great for bringing in cash for any type of financial goal as well. Or if you make $1000 extra over the course of the next 6 months and want to continue with buying substantial Christmas gifts, you could spend half on Christmas and half on a financial goal.

Taking a hard look at reality is not the most fun part of budgeting for Christmas (or budgeting in general), but it is a necessary step. I had to do this a few years ago after seeing how much we were spending on not only Christmas but also eating out and other expenses related to it. I encouraged you to stay the course and take this step. You will not regret it. I know I haven’t.

Next up, we’ll have some planning tips for next Christmas. As I mentioned above, Christmas gifts is not the only thing we spend money on for the Christmas holiday. We’ll take a look at some stuff to budget for and some tips on how to get there.

Thanks for sticking with me so far!