The Christmas Countdown is on: 10 weeks today will be Christmas Day. This means we need to get planning and get organised.
This week’s tasks are all about planning: planning a budget and making lists.
Christmas Countdown Task 1: Make a Budget
Personally, as much as I’d like to be a saver, I’m not. I’ve always struggled with sticking to the idea of a budget, until I actually sat down and worked it all out, and then kept a note of what I spent.
There’s the truth: you have to set a budget, and then you have to record your spending so that you stick to it.
This is your chance to make sure your Christmas is affordable. You also have time to make sure you don’t spend a fortune on those last minute gifts – you know, the ones where you forgot to get them a present so you rush out in a panic and blow the budget.
As you’re starting your planning early, you’ve also got time to spread out the cost. Each week, I’ll suggest an item to stock up on, so that you spread the cost over the next few months.
As a guide, the average family spends £796 on Christmas. There’s a brilliant Christmas Budget Planner by the Money Advice Service, and the excellent Money Saving Expert has some good advice for cutting costs.
So, how do you do it?
- Work out how much you can afford.
Work out your non-negotiables.
Work out your negotiable costs. Set a budget for gifts, food (but don’t forget you’ll still have your usual food budget too), entertainment and travel, plus any other costs that you can think of.
Set up a spreadsheet and track your spending so that you can make sure you stick to this.
Christmas Countdown Task 2: Make your lists
The most important list is your present list. No, the presents you want! You need to make a list of the people you plan to give presents to.
You’ll know who you give to amongst your family and friends, but it’s important to list everyone. So think about:
- Your children’s teachers
- Friends’ children
- Workplace Colleagues (Secret Santa?)
- Children’s friends
They are just a few suggestions… You might give to your hairdresser, babysitter, PA, boss, GP, bin man… It’s up to you. But get them on your list.
You don’t have to start buying presents now, but you will find that you’ll start thinking about it, and start looking out for things. If you see something that would be a brilliant present, snap it up!
You might also like to download a free app to keep track of your Christmas present buying too.
Christmas Countdown Task 3: Have a Clear Out
This is an optional task – Tasks 1 and 2 are essential. And, to be honest, you could do this task at any time.
But… This is a really good opportunity to have a clear out. Box up the outgrown clothes, pass on toys that aren’t played with and tidy up the cupboards.
This will help you achieve two things:
You’ll see what you need, or what your children need, and therefore this will give you ideas for gifts.
You’ll find space to store your gifts (before giving them).
Before the Christmas decorations come out, it feels good to have some clear surfaces, and some breathing space in the house. So I’ll definitely be doing this over the next week.
If you’d like to join in with the Christmas Countdown, and get yourself organised for Christmas, please join my mailing list.
Please let me know how you get on in the comments, and do join us for the next challenges next week!