The holiday season is great for spending time with family, eating delicious food, and decorating your home with lights and ornaments. It is not, however, the best time of year to save money. After weeks of buying gifts for all your friends and family, your budget can suffer a major shock. The following are a few tips to keep your mortgage and other bills affordable during the holidays.
Record Your Base Income and Essential Expenses
First, you need to know exactly how much money you have coming in. What counts as income, you ask? All money that comes into your account each month is considered income. This includes paychecks, side jobs, residual income, gigs, and etc. Make a list of all your revenue streams and then add them up.
Before the month begins, write down every expense you know is coming your way. The essentials like food, shelter, clothing, transportation, and utilities should be recorded first followed by things like phones, streaming services, cable and so on.
Plan Ahead for Christmas
You know Christmas is in December every year, but sometimes it just sneaks up on you anyway. To mitigate this problem, start saving money for your Christmas gift budget months in advance if you can so it won’t feel like it’s wiping you out at the last minute.
It’s not just gifts either. Don’t forget that you’ll need things like gift wrap, decorations, and ingredients for that secret Christmas-cookie recipe. If your employer throws a Christmas party or gift exchange, you have to add that to the Christmas budget too!
Subtract Income from Expenses
Once you have a solid understanding of how much to have to spend, you can start to put the numbers to work by deducting your expenses from your income. Don’t be too troubled if your income and expenses don’t balance each other out initially. All this means is that you need to do something to bring one of the numbers up, the other down, or both. Don’t spend anything that’s not accounted for. If the budget for your brothers present is $50, stay within that, or subtract the difference elsewhere to make it balance.
If it turns out you’re still spending more than you’re taking in, make a few cuts to your discretionary spending. Try buying generic groceries, cutting out your daily trip to Starbucks, or taking a carpool or public transportation to work.
Take a look at how much you spent on Christmas gifts last year. Is it reasonable to increase your budget or decrease it? Set a goal for your gift fund and use your Christmas budget to help you get there, one responsible spending decision at a time! You’ll be amazed at how much disposable income you will have at the end of it.
It’s always better to give than to receive during the Christmas season. While it can be stressful to reconcile your mortgage payment and other expenses with gift-giving during the holidays, the above tips can help immensely and keep your bank account healthy. For information on mortgage budgeting and other financial resources, contact the professionals at American Mortgage Resource, Inc.