How to not bust your Christmas budget

It's the most wonderful time of the year, it's also the most expensive if you don't have a plan.

Let's face it, even if you have been diligent in sticking to a budgeting and saving all year long, this is the time when things can really fall apart if you don't have intention.  Today I wanted to offer some tips to not busting your Christmas budget. 

1. Actually make a Christmas budget

I know. Mind blowing stuff happening here. But if you're going to make this work you have to make a budget for each gift, decoration of charitable donation.

And make it realistic. You're probably going to spend more than $20 on your kids. So keep in mind what you spent last year. If you need to pare things down and spend less, cross some things off that list or find cheaper alternatives. 

2. Track what you're spending

I like to make a list in the reminders function on my phone. I put in each person I am going to be purchasing a gift for and add how much I have budget for each one. When I make a purchase I will update that list. 

Or you can use something like the EveryDollar app. This is my favorite budgeting app, it's really simple to use and it's free. It's also really good for keeping you accountable. 

3. Keep your list A List only

I know this sounds harsh, but you just can't do something for everyone. This year I am keeping things to family only, and even a few extended family-members (aunts and uncles we see every few years) are getting gifts my boys made. 

I just can't buy something for every coach, teacher, hairdresser I know. I don't say that to be cruel, or because I don't appreciate these people. I say that because I live in reality and reality dictates I can't buy everyone a gift and stay on track. So that might mean I bake a bulk batch of cookies, or write a very heart-felt letter telling them what they mean to me. 

Take a long look at your list and determine where you need to pare things down. 

4. Make bulk purchases

Last year everyone I know got a Turvis mug. Why? Because I found a really, really good sale. I was able to personalize the mugs and they ended up costing around $17 each. This saved me money and time. 

What about you? How are you staying on budget?