Since Thanksgiving is early this year (next week!), the time to get your holiday plan in order is quickly running out.
For us, our holiday plan will generally be the same as last year.
We have our holiday savings account, which we fund each pay period and keep at ING so we earn a little interest. The great part of setting up a holiday budget and plan, each year it is quick and easy work to adjust and replicate. For a lot of people, the word budget has a negative connotation, for us budget really means plan.
First, I have already ordered our holiday cards, this is an expensive part of our holiday plan since we send out about 80 cards. All together, with the printing of the cards and the postage this is going to run about $200. Another trick for holiday cards is to get your holiday addresses into an Excel spreadsheet so its easy to adjust the list from year to year.
Second, while we have a general agreement not to exchange gifts with the adults in our family (except for one or two holdouts) the past few years I have sent holiday wreathes which also supports a charity. Sending the wreathes runs about $200. I'm thinking of mixing this up this year as we visited a winery on our travels this past year and I was thinking of sending wine. This is something I need to investigate and figure out my plan.
Third, the kiddos in the family. I'm upping the budget for the kids this year. My nephew is in college now I'm increasing his holiday gift from $50 to $100 in cash. Of course, I need to do the same for his sister who is in high school (total $200). $50 in cash to the little ones and a little something gift (total $150). $50 each to college fund (total $200). So, this category is going from $250 last year to $550. That is a big increase in our holiday budget so we'll need to make an adjustment to our automatic savings plan for the holiday account for next year.
Fourth, I am budgeting $100 for work related gifts. This is an increase from last year,but I also missed my assistant's birthday so need to make that up.
Fifth, $100 for misc. expenses, baking supplies, hostess gifts, etc.
Sixth, $50 for stocking stuffers for my husband and dog.
This year we are again taking a trip over the New Year's weekend (this is budgeted in our travel fund) as such we won't be doing gifts to each other. We haven't done holiday gifts for each other in years.
Finally, $100 to sponsor a need child's Christmas.
Overall, our holiday budget will increase this year by @ $300. Since we already have saved $1000 (plus we have a bit of interest) the increase in our budget is manageable. I was surprised to hear that the amount we are planning to spend greatly exceeds the norm.
How about you, do you have a spending plan for the holidays, how much are you spending, is it going up or down or staying the same?