Sunday, October 12, 2008

31 Things to do before Christmas – Speaking of money

(This is #3 of 31 in the 31 Things to do series)

Budgeting for Christmas when money is tight

One of the first things to remember about budgeting for anything is that you figure out how much you have to spend, then you set up your spending plan based on that amount. Not the other way around. If you first decide what you are going to buy, then try to find the money to pay for it, you will either be disappointed or so determined to get what you want that you will go into debt for it if necessary.

But since we want to spend cash only for Christmas, that is not an option.

Let's decide how much we have to spend before we make our lists. This would be a good time to start a running list in your Christmas tablet. You can simply call this one "Budget".

Next let's list other sources of cash you have or will have.
  • First of all, did you come up with any extra cash using any ideas from the previous post about reclaiming your unclaimed money? If so, write a line with the dollar amount and the source on your budget page for each amount you were able to find.
  • Do you expect to receive a holiday bonus from your employer?
  • Do you have a Christmas Club account or holiday savings account?
  • How many more paychecks do you expect to receive, and how much from each check will you be able to earmark for holiday spending?
Add an entry to your budget page for each of these sources.

A note about hoiday bonuses.... In most cases for those of you blessed enough to even be getting a bonus at all, it is at your employer's discretion, and if the company isn't doing well, that will probably be reflected in your bonus. Or if it is performance based, there again it is not guaranteed if you will get one or how much. I would not count this money until I see it. I usually receive a bonus but I don't expect it or get too excited about it, that way I'm not disappointed. Not only that, this money is taxed at the maximum rate I believe. At least I've noticed in the past that mine have been taxed at about 40%, ouch! So if I thought I was getting a $500 bonus, by the time I got the check home it was more like $300. The first time it happened to me I was kind of perterbed, but now I know. Don't get too excited about it.

Now that you've identified your main sources of your holiday budget and the expected dollar amounts, add them up to determine your total amount available for spending. You can refer to this amount from here on out, as we look at other tasks on our 31 days list.

No comments: