We’re over halfway through the year now. How has it been going for you? Has your budget taken a few hits, or are you on track? With schools finished for the time being, are big expenses coming your way, such as kids starting college or busy summer months of activity on the cards? How do the next few months look? Have you thought about planning for Christmas yet?
Why are we thinking about Christmas already?
It may seem early to start planning for Christmas; however, Christmas is one of the main expenses in the second half of the year. It can also become a stressful and dreaded time for some people as the emotional toll of purchasing gifts and hosting family creeps up. So, planning ahead will allow you to create a budget, shopping list and savings plan to help you achieve whatever a perfect Christmas means to you.
In this blog, rather than thinking of “getting ready for Christmas” (in July, we know), we want to refocus and think “I’m planning to get ahead!”.
Have you any other occasions or events coming up? Did you know that May and July are the busiest months for birthdays in Ireland? Check out our planning for big occasions blog. The best time to start planning for all these upcoming occasions is now. Even if you start your budget but have to stop for whatever reason, it makes it that little bit easier to come back. Whether you have to start again or pick up where you left off. A budget is never set in stone. It’s there to work with you and whatever changes you need to make.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Think back to January, were you dreading the bills coming in? Did you spend a lot more than you thought? Now think about how you would like to feel next January – this is part of your motivation towards planning ahead.
- Do you have a grocery or gift shopping list from last year?
If not, don’t worry. You can start this year and use it again next year. Jot down a list of people you need to buy for and essential items you have to have over the festive period.
- Do you have any savings put away for Christmas specifically? Some people swear by putting a little bit away every pay packet. It makes budgeting easier when you have some set aside.
- Back to the basics of budgeting – If you know how much you spent last year, use that as a guide and divide by how many pay packets you have between now and December. That’s your target, can you budget for that between now and December? If not, go back to the drawing board and see where you could make savings.
Remember, for most people, Christmas is spending time with family, not spending money you don’t have.
- Will you be hosting or visiting? Now is the time to start these conversations so you and your extended family can plan ahead, especially if there’s travel involved.
- Have kids outgrown clothes or play with certain toys if you have kids? This is an opportunity to do a clear-out; if in good condition, you could sell these items to add to your Christmas fund. This works for adults, too. If you have clothes or shoes, you’re not wearing, that could be additional money into your Christmas fund.
- If you’ve been saving already and are on track with your budget, well done, you’re probably moving into the time of year when you start buying gifts in sales. Just remember, it’s only a bargain if you were going to buy it not on sale.
Feeling inspired to plan ahead?
Check out more resources we have for budgeting, occasions and Christmas:
Try following these useful tips, and they may help you get your brain organised for the next half of the year.
Keep in mind that if you are struggling with your finances, reach out. MABS is here to offer you advice and support.
You can find your local office here, call the MABS Helpline on 0818 07 2000, Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 8 pm, or on WhatsApp at 086 035 3141.