This year will be our fifth debt-free Christmas, meaning we pay in cash for all our Christmas stuff, from the decorations to food, gifts and even our family Christmas cards. It isn’t easy to make paying solely in cash for Christmas happen, however, especially when you’re a family of five. But with this one hack that we’ve been doing, we’ve been able to make sticking to our all-cash Christmas budget a reality.
The first thing we do is decide who we are purchasing gifts for. This might sound terrible, but we don’t purchase gifts for anyone and everyone. We purchase gifts for each of our children’s teachers (or chip in for a group gift from the class) and of course for grandparents. We also get a gift for our nephew and our children. We participate in a toy drive, as well, where each of our children gets to purchase a gift to donate.
And that is it. We don’t purchase gifts for anyone else. I know that may seem harsh, but the reality is that if we don’t put a limit on who we’re going to buy for, we’ll end up wrecking our budget before we ever even start. So, if you want to make sticking to your Christmas budget a reality, I encourage you first to make a list of all of the people you plan to purchase for.
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This is, for me, the best part of Christmas planning. I not only make a list of the people I intend to purchase for, but I also make a list of what I plan to buy them. I basically make a grocery list for Christmas shopping, and I make a point to stick to that list.
One of the ways I do this is by writing down the gift receiver’s name and then, under their name, what I plan to buy them. For example, for my 6-year-old, I would write down: Lego City set; pair of jeans size, 6R; long-sleeve shirt, size S; “Magic Treehouse” book set.
I keep this list with me at all times. That way, as I’m shopping, whether online or in a store, if I come across a great deal on one of the items from my list, I can make a purchase and cross it off. This keeps me from getting distracted by all of the other great deals out there, too.
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Stick to It
The great thing about always having my list with me is that I’m less likely to buy something that isn’t on the list. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t wavier from my list. Just like a regular budget, if you take more than you expected from one category, you have to adjust the budget by taking from another category, and you have to do the same thing with your list.
Meaning, if you purchase something that was outside your gift list, take something off your list for that person. This simple thing has helped me stay on budget and kept me accountable so that I don’t overspend on Christmas.
If you want to make sticking to your Christmas budget happen this year, I encourage you to plan out what you need to purchase: gifts, decor, food and anything else Christmas-related that you need. Just because we pay in cash for all our Christmas stuff doesn’t mean you have to, but the more you plan, the easier in-the-moment decisions come and the less likely you are to go over your allotted budget.
Click through to read more about strategies one family uses to stick to a budget.
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This article originally appeared on GoBankingRates.com.