If you are looking for an easy way to set up a holiday budget, you have come to the right place! If you follow these steps, you will be able to spend less time worrying about your wallet and spend more time actually enjoying the holidays!
I love this time of the year, I really do. There are so many things to be grateful for: family, friends, good food and so many others. But heck, let’s face it, when it comes to finances, there isn’t much else that causes stress like finances do. It seems like every direction you turn, your money is flying out the door.
Living on a budget is important no matter what time of the year it is; however, living on a budget during the holiday season is even more important. Whether it is gift buying or traveling to visit family that is farther away, you can find that your spending gets, well…a little out of control. Even I tend to go a little over on my budget, especially when it comes to spoiling my wife.
That is why I want to help get your budget ready for this holiday season. Now, I realize that I may be a little late getting this out for Christmas 2016, but hopefully it will help you realize where you may have already overspent so you can re-adjust your budget. And I also know you may not want to even discuss budgets, but I promise that it will bring you more peace in the overall scheme of things.
Wherever you are on your financial journey, the whole concept of an emergency fund is an important cog in the wheel. Back in December, I walked through a basic guide of setting up a starter emergency fund. You may be still building up to that $1,000, and maybe you are there already and ready to get your emergency fund fully funded.
For my family, getting the emergency fund set up is a critical part of our financial plan. After losing two jobs in just over a year, it had become very clear why we needed it. Initially, I thought the $1,000 along with some savings, would tide us over until I found a job. A thousand dollars goes away really fast when you are looking at mortgage, food, bills, and more. That is why one of our short term goals is to get our emergency fund fully funded. Most experts say that to fully fund your emergency savings, you should have 3-6 months of living expenses. I am going to cover how to determine a month of expenses, but let’s just pick a number really quick. Let’s say your monthly expenses are $3,000. If we take that and times it by three, we get $9,000. Times it by 6 and we have $18,000. That is a lot of money, right? That is why a starter fund of $1,000 is just that, a starter emergency fund. It isn’t meant to carry you over until you get the next job.
There isn’t much that will brighten your day more than when you see a large check come in the mail or hit your bank account. The tax refund has finally come! What are we going to do with it? Should we be responsible or should we hop on the next flight to Vegas?
Ever since I started claiming myself on my tax return, the tax refund has been something to look forward to. I believe that most people feel that way, even though receiving a large tax return isn’t that great when you think about it. A large return means that we have overpaid and have given an interest free loan to the government.
When I was younger, buying the latest technology or spending it on who knows what, was exactly what I would do with my refund. Once I got married, that all changed. Now we place the money into a savings account to pay for having a baby, or putting a down payment on a car, not to mention the home improvements or repairs that need to be made.
Have you ever done something stupid that costs you money you don’t have? How did you pay for it? Did you place it on your credit card or use your emergency fund? The past couple of weeks I have had a major budget crushing accident that has been killing me.
I love to garden, it takes a lot of stress out of my life. Last year I felt like I had a great garden that produced a large number of vegetables and I wanted to have more. After a period of time, I sort of convinced told my wife I was going to add three more garden boxes to our back yard. The current box I had set up to have our sprinkler system water the garden so I didn’t need to go out every day to do the watering. With the addition of three more garden beds, I knew I was going to need to add a couple more lines to the sprinkler system. I had dug out the area around the sprinkler box and found the direction where the pipe was heading and mapped out the course on the new line. I rented a trencher to do the hard work and started down my path I had marked out to where the new pipe would lay.
Ever heard of a sinking fund? I hadn’t heard of it until a few months ago, but understood the principles right away. Understanding what a sinking fund is can be incredibly beneficial to your budget. A sinking fund is a category in a budget that adds up each month, and only occasionally is spent.
Losing a job can be very taxing on a person. If you were to tell me a couple years ago that I would have to deal with a job loss, I would have laughed. I loved my job and never even saw it coming. Losing one job is bad enough, but I lost two jobs in the span of just under 18 months.
Leading up to the first job loss, we had been doing really well at budgeting our money. We were ready to purchase a home, so we were really diligent. We purchased our home about 8 months prior and just had a baby before we got the bad news. We hadn’t even started building our savings back up. We had committed a huge crime in the financial world and even tapped into our emergency fund to help with the down payment. We didn’t have much saved up when I lost the job, so we did what the majority of people do in this situation. We used our credit cards. We quickly found ourselves in a huge amount of debt. I was drained mentally and emotionally from this situation. I felt worthless, and at the same time too proud to ask for help.
There really isn’t much that I regret in my life, but there is one big thing that does stick out in my mind and that is my financial choices in my early 20’s. During my high school years, I did fairly well managing the money that I was bringing in from working. But, in 1999, I left to serve a mission for my church in Russia for two years. Upon my return, it seemed that my desire to be smart and save money went right out the door. After getting a job, and started earning money again all I wanted to do was buy toys, go to movies and hang out with friends. The amount of money I was making at the time wasn’t a lot, but I was living at home and didn’t have to worry about rent, food or expenses with my car. I wanted to buy so many things, and so I did what I thought was the best idea, applied for a credit card. I quickly started to fall behind on making payments on time and racked up a number of late fees.
If there was a chance that I could go back and have a sit down with my 21-year-old self, I would. So, what would I tell myself? I would sit down and discuss finances. Some things I would be able to apply to my life right away, and some things that I would wait until later on in my life. Here are five financial choices I would tell myself to AVOID:
The other day a friend of mine told me that it was hard to save money. They are living paycheck to paycheck and half of their paycheck is spent before they even get it. They have gotten themselves into so much debt and are so overwhelmed they don’t even know where to begin. When I asked if they had set up a monthly budget, the answer I received was that we try to set up a budget, but usually fail and add more to our credit cards because we run out of money.
Creating a budget can sometimes be frustrating, especially if you don’t know where to start. If you don’t tell your money what to do, then at the end of the month you won’t know where your money went. By creating a budget, you give yourself control over your money and where it goes. When sitting down to create your budget, there are four simple things to remember:
If you are anything like me, you like to spoil your spouse during the holidays. But I have to honestly admit, I am absolutely terrible about planning ahead for Valentine’s Day. This year, I am hoping to turn a new leaf and have everything taken care of and planned out so it doesn’t cost me a fortune. During my preparations, here are a few things that I have found that may help you to stay on budget this coming Valentine’s Day:
- Order Your Flowers Now!
If you order your flowers now, you get them at today’s pricing. But if you wait until the week leading up to Valentine’s Day or even on Valentine’s Day, you may find that the cost is nearly doubled or tripled the price, or there isn’t anything left to buy. Visit your nearest flower shop and get your flowers ordered now and save money as well as guarantee having them ready for pickup on Valentine’s Day.
- Plan to Eat in This Year
Start to polish up on your culinary abilities. Ask your spouse what their preference for a meal would be and make it a couple of times prior to the big day. Make a list of everything you need to prepare it and purchase items in advance to ensure you have the ingredients.
- DIY Gifts Can Be a Great Idea
Plan to make something for your spouse. Check out their Pinterest Boards to look at some of the projects that they have been wanting to ask you to make, or maybe finish a project that you had started but have yet to finish. When you make something for your spouse it shows how much time and effort you put into making them the gift.
- Look for Special Deals on Gifts and Gift Cards
Sometimes you can find some great sales when you plan ahead on items you may want to buy your spouse. You may find that drill that he has been wanting at Lowe’s, or a piece of jewelry she has been eyeing for some time. If you don’t plan ahead on what you want to get them, you may just miss the sale that saves you money. Don’t forget to look at gift cards too. If you have a membership to Costco or Sam’s Club, you may be able to find a great deal on movie tickets or a show. Talk with close friends that may want to go in on it with you and plan a double date around that activity.
Hopefully you will find a way to spoil your spouse by taking a little extra time now to plan so you don’t break the bank later and pay for it for months to come. Remember, don’t swipe the card if you don’t have the cash.
The chances of our children ending up being cardiologists, NBA players, or even famous movie stars are frankly not that good. Because of this, our children will need to know how to manage their money.
For my daughter Ellie’s birthday, she received $10 from her Aunt and Uncle, needless to say she was excited to have money of her own. Rightfully so, as $10 is a lot of money to a four-year-old! I overheard her grandma and my wife ask her what she was going to spend her money on and started giving her some options; candy, a toy, etc.… which is when I said that she was going to save it!
This got me thinking of when should we start teaching our kids about saving money? When did I learn about saving money?