Planning and Budgeting-Part Three
This one comes a little late as Christmas was a few weeks ago. However, it’s never too late to start. In fact, that’s why I am posting now. January is the time to start! As a single mom, the holidays were a stress factor for me. Every year it seems like there wasn’t enough money to go around and I would forget someone. Over the years, I would have good intentions to start saving early and buying early but it never seemed to work. Some expense always came up. Here are some things I did that really made a huge difference. Starting with $10-20 a month for 12 months earmarked for Christmas will make more of a difference that you think. Here are some other ideas:
January or October Savings Club—The first of October, I started an envelope for Christmas. I usually started with $25 each time I got paid (twice a month) and $50 from each child support check for October, November and December. So by the end of December, I had almost $300. Still today I start saving money every year about October. However, there’s no reason you couldn’t
Start in January with $10-$20 and see how fast it would add up. I’ve done it both ways. If you find yourself always strapped for cash throughout the year, I would start in January! Also, many employers have a program where a predetermined amount is deducted from your check each pay period and deposited into an account. At a point before the holidays, usually November, the employer cuts you a check for your deductions. It’s similar to a saving account but one you can’t access until they disburse checks. This helps if you have trouble keeping your hand out of the cookie jar!
Kids’ Christmas Lists. I got this one from my mom and have carried on the tradition. On Thanksgiving, she would have us write out a list of stocking stuffers, Under $5, Under $25 and Under $50 and Under $100. We understood that we wouldn’t get everything on the list but were advised to list several things under each category. We would usually get one large present and a few smaller ones. By doing this, it allows the kids to really focus on particular items because of the price points. You can certainly change the denominations but this prevented my own children for asking for a $500 gaming system or new phone. This momma just couldn’t spend that. When my kids were smaller, I focused on several smaller priced gifts so the tree looked full and they had several things to open. As they got older, I focus on several smaller priced items and one or two larger ones. I made sure they opened the larger priced items last. (That’s just my way.)
Making a list of names. The brings to mind everyone you need to buy for and writing it down before you even start shopping helps.
Shop direct sellers sales! This year I wanted to make sure I had a small item to give a larger group of friends and then a few “emergency gifts” for anyone I might have forgotten. I posted on Facebook asking for direct sellers like Scentsy, Avon, Posh, etc. to let me know their best deals. Surprisingly, I bet I had over 25 responses. I was able to purchase multiple items for a dollar or two. I began making small sacks with various items for my group of friends. I picked up small things I found throughout the next two months. I also do this for stocking stuffers. Dollar type stores are also great for stocking stuffers that can be saved for several months. I have a special hiding place for small items like hand lotions, nail files, small toys, balls, bath soaps, small screwdriver sets, etc. that can be picked up at these stores year round. Why wait ‘til the last minute!!??
Take advantage of Black Friday. For me, Black Friday never really worked. By the time I got in the door, what I wanted was usually gone. I have had much better success shopping sales, using coupon and promo codes and layaway. This way I ensure that I have the correct item and have found layaway a great place just to hide items. Usually I will pay down to $1.00 and hold there until close to Christmas.
Investigate Christmas Traditions. Over the years, I have also found that what my children remembered most were the traditions that we shared versus the gifts they received. There’s a free Christmas lights show in our town. The boys started asking about it before Thanksgiving. Christmas movies are usually free on TV. I would make a calendar the week after Thanksgiving and then through December with each fun thing that we could do. Most were free like movie/popcorn night, Christmas light viewing, Christmas cookie decorating (invite their friends, it’s even more fun!), advent calendar.
Avoid Impulse buying. Probably the best thing I have learned is to not be an impulse buyer. I noticed that as it got closer to Christmas, the more I bought. Now, I try to be completely done shopping at least two weeks before Christmas. I stick to my list and try to avoid going into stores until after New Year’s. Retailers know how to appeal to buyers. It’s their job. However, it’s my job not to bankrupt my family because of mass marketing.
I hope this year we can all be counted among those who exercise wisdom: “The wise have wealth and luxury, but fools spend whatever they get.” Proverbs 21:20 NLT
Be wise spenders and savers, moms!!
About Lynn Cunningham
Lynn Cunningham, manager by day, single mother by night. Lynn has been a single mother for more than a decade. Lynn adapted what she learned in business and applied it to her home. Lynn takes business principles such as developing a mission statement, budgeting, team meetings and delegation, and employee relations, then adapts them to successful principals for your home. Through practical, easy to use tips and techniques, you can become more organized, less stressed, have more money in the budget and develop a team player mentality! *In 2019, Lynn passed away after battling cancer.