Have a Green Christmas: Budgeting Edition
I love Christmas. I love the generous spirit it embodies, the fostering of closer relationships, and the entire splendor that comes with it. I really do love this time of year.
There is one aspect of it that I tend to struggle with.
It is incredibly easy to get swept away in the grandeur of the seasons, with all of the ads, commercials and marketing that screams, “buy me!”. Then I am left with two options: do I max out my credit card, making sure everyone I know has the best gift ever, or do I take a more practical approach and remember that it is just a holiday? On top of that, I want to cognizant of the impact of my family’s consumption on the environment, so having a Green Christmas is a top priority of mine.
I prefer to take a more practical approach to spending, but I know personally how challenging it can be. With a few tips and reminders, I can achieve a Green Christmas while still staying within my budget.
First, I am a huge proponent of budgeting. Whether you make $100 a year, or $1,000,000, there needs to be structure and a well-thought-out plan in regards to your finances. If you are not sure where to start with your budget, check out this article on budgeting.
Second, setting up some simple guidelines prior to the holiday spending frenzy will help you control costs while ensuring that your loved ones will feel special, and also accomplishing a Green Christmas in the process.
Here are some tips to budgeting for a Green Christmas:
Create your budget
Make a list of everyone that you want to purchase or make a gift for, along with the maximum amount of money you want to spend on each individual. Don’t forget to add in any charitable giving, such as buying gifts or clothing for less fortunate children, donating food to food shelters or food drives, or adding money to the Salvation Army bucket outside your local market. When you’re done, add up the total amount of money it will take to buy all of the gifts you want. If it’s an unrealistic amount, go back and revise until you have something that works for your income and budget.
Set aside money as far out as possible
Once you know what your total Green Christmas budget is going to be, try to plot out a realistic amount to set aside each paycheck, prior to Christmas. Spreading out the expense over several pay periods will reduce the impact of the financial expenditure.
Put away the credit cards
I am guilty of reaching for credit cards, but I am determined to keep them stowed away this holiday season. It is tempting to just pull out a credit card and put the burden of paying it back for another day, but you’re ultimately setting yourself back. In addition, studies show that individuals making purchases on credit are likely to spend 12-18% more than when using cash.
For the last couple years, my family has had a small Christmas budget, so instead of buying gifts for everyone in our family, we decided to draw names. Everyone who is participating adds their name to a hat (or you can use an online random drawing feature through Elfster) and each person draws one name, and buys a present for that person. It’s a good idea to set spending limits, so everyone gets a equal gift, and no one feels compelled to over-spend. Using this method, you will end up buying a fewer gifts and will save money.
Don’t buy into the advertisements
Last year, Americans spend $586.1 billion dollars on holiday shopping. Companies make 20-40% of their annual sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so every company is trying to cash in on the holiday spending, and will deploy any tactics necessary to get you to spend your hard-earned money. To combat this, never go to the store without a list and clear idea of what you want, and how much you are willing to spend. Avoid reading ads in stores, fast forward or change channels during commercials, and try to do whatever you can to not subject yourself to marketing gimmicks.
Remember the reason for the season
Whether or not you have spiritual beliefs, the holidays are about the relationships and experiences with our loved ones, not how many possessions we can give or accumulate. Looking back over the years, my fondest memories of Christmas were spending time with my friends and family, not the gifts.
Next week, I will be sharing some ideas for making and buying gifts, decorations, and planning festivities for a Green Christmas!
What are your tips on having a Green Christmas?
I live in New Mexico with my husband and my two-year-old daughter. After my daughter was born, I jumped on the “green and crunchy” bandwagon, and have been striving to eliminate toxic products from our lives. I make my own household cleaners and beauty products. I create wholesome, delicious meals from real food ingredients, and keep processed junk out of my home.
I have a background in finance, and strive to live a debt free life (although I have a ways to go). I enjoy reading, writing and living in ways that are environmentally friendly and frugal. I love taking pictures of nature, food and my daughter. I garden, I read labels, and I play the piano.
I believe by living simply and naturally, we become happy and healthy. If you’re into that kind of thing (and I assume you are, because you’re here, right?), please follow me on Facebook,Twitter, and Pinterest.
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