Califonia Bountiful

Now from Nationwide: How to budget for the holidays

November/December 2018 California Bountiful magazine

Balancing your gift-giving spirit with your smart-spending brain

One of the simplest ways to avoid holiday stress is to create a budget so your gift-giving spirit doesn't overtake your smart-spending brain. With a preplanned budget, you can indulge loved ones without struggling to keep up with bills.

Create a customized holiday budget

  1. Account for all the bills that will be due around the holidays. Don't forget to factor in other expenses such as groceries and fuel, both of which can be higher than usual due to holiday parties and travel.
  2. Determine how much money you can save between now and the holidays to devote to gift giving.
  3. Set aside a small portion of that budget to buy wrapping paper, tape, ribbons, bows and cards.
  4. List everyone to whom you'd like to give a gift. Divide your remaining budget among these people; set a specific dollar amount for each.

Keep a copy of your budget with you to keep you focused during holiday shopping trips—and to help you avoid the temptation of impulse spending on yourself. Be sure to record exactly how much you spend.

Follow your guidelines, but stay flexible. You may find the perfect gift for Aunt Bette on sale. Or (more likely) you may go overbudget on your best friend's present. Either way, shift funds as needed. If you spent more on one gift, spend less on another.

Creative ways to stretch your budget

Not all gifts have to be expensive—in fact, some of the best gifts are the ones that cost the least.

  • Consider starting a gift exchange with a group of relatives or friends, so you have to buy only one gift instead of bag loads for everyone.
  • Create homemade gifts for people who will appreciate them. Knit a hat for your cousin's new baby or decorate sugar cookies for your neighbor. Doting relatives often appreciate simple framed photos of kids or grandkids.
  • If you're running out of money, you can always give your time. Offer a free night of babysitting to your sister or take your niece on a special outing to a local museum.
Article contributed by Nationwide, which is endorsed by the California Farm Bureau Federation. To learn more, visit Products underwritten by Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company and Affiliated Companies. Subject to underwriting guidelines, review, and approval. Products and discounts not available to all persons in all states. Nationwide, the Nationwide N and Eagle, and Nationwide is on your side are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. © 2018 Nationwide. 

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