Friday, December 23, 2011

Fiscal Fridays: Christmas edition

First off, i would like to officially admit that I am off the Financial Diet wagon this month. It seemed rather inevitable...after all, December has a comparatively high number of holiday obligations. And with all that Christmas shopping, one can hardly help but eat out more, or picking up an item or two for oneself. (Though I'm pleased to say that I kept the personal shopping to an absolute minimum. I just dined out a lot more, and went to a number of BYOB-style parties, so that's where all my money went.)

Anyway, I'm giving myself a pass for the month. I have months of successful Financial Dieting under my belt. I see this month as a kind of "reward." And since the money I've been spending is money I actually have (i.e., I haven't been using my credit card! at all!), I feel much less guilty about bending the rules. But this isn't a post about overspending in December. It's a post about getting your budget ready for next Christmas.

(Illustration by yours truly)

If you're anything like me, you start saving for your Christmas fund in roughly October or November. And I'm willing to bet that it puts a heck of a strain on your budget. So this year, I'll be doing the Dave Ramsay approach: an "envelope" fund. I'll be saving X amount (haven't decided yet...probably around $25) a month, starting in January. And I'm keeping it in a regular envelope, with a tracker on the front (like a checkbook register) to help me visualize what's in there. The best part? If I see something in June that would make a perfect gift for, say, my mom, I can go ahead and buy it then. Without stretching my budget that month, or charging it, or hoping that it's still available in November. Bam!

Here's the tracker I made. You can use the memo line to keep track of the envelope's balance, or to make notes when you use some of the money inside (say, "$30 spent on ___ for ___"). Here's an example of the version I'll be using. You can copy it, tape/glue it to the front of an envelope, and get saving! Just make sure you hide the envelope where a burglar can't steal it, or where you won't "accidentally" dip into the money for non-Christmassy things! (Oh, and if you want the full-size or editable version of this image, email me and I'll send it to you. Blogger doesn't host files for download, and I couldn't find a site I liked well enough to link to, so I couldn't make this a downloadable file for you guys. Sorry!)

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to everyone! I'm off this weekend for a whirlwind of relatives. Thank God some of them live here in Columbus...I quite enjoy sleeping in my own bed :)

1 comment:

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