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Celebrating Christmas on a Budget

It's that time of year again! Not the time for cheer and happiness, but the time right before that where we're expected to shell out hundreds or thousands on decorations and gifts for loved ones. Along with that comes a new spark of impulsive spending with the excuse that "my sister will love this" or "I deserve nice things for the holiday's too!". All of these things are true, but respecting a budget and keeping your investing goals on track is equally important.

The Trap

Everybody expects you to be as everybody has always been. Remember 98% of America can't retire  because they've always done what everybody else has always done. We're here because we want to do things differently, and it's never been easy before so why now? 

Family will get upset that we're not blowing the hard saved money that's been accumulating through our discipline. Greed and entitlement will be at an all time high with the easy question in the back of our mind, "Should I just give in this year?". 

It doesn't have to be this way. You can be full of Christmas cheer and make it work on a budget, but it all starts with a plan. 

The Plan

Before every holiday, or even event for that matter, you need to sit aside some time and build out a plan on how you can celebrate the holidays keeping your financial goals in mind. Along side of that set a budget and try to stick to it. This gives you a goal to keep in mind when making those holiday purchases. 

We currently use the envelope system to keep our budgeting on track. Our current end of year budget is right around $200. This gives us a small $35-$50 for decorations at Thanksgiving and Christmas. We don't really decorate much for Thanksgiving and reuse a lot of previously purchased Halloween decorations. That leaves $150 for gifts and treats around Christmas time. Parents get a thoughtful gift around $10 and any coworkers that are deemed worthy also get around a $10 gift. 

Kids fall into a separate category on this as a lot of people building careers and Investments don't currently have kids, but we set aside $100 for the young kids now and buy multiple presents around $10-$25 a piece as that's what keeps them the most engaged. At their current age it's more about opening the presents than playing with what's inside. 

In most situations a simple quick laid out plan is enough to get you through the holidays and make everybody happy. Remember to get your seasonal coffees and take everything in moderation. Your family loves you and will get over the fact your not spending every penny you have on them as long as you spend your time on them and make them feel special this time of year. Happy holidays and happy spending!


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