by Caroline Paterson – CPA, CGA, Paterson Henn CPA –
Most of us don’t like budgeting at any time, let alone during the holidays when we want to make our loved ones happy. Spending time with our family and friends is the best part about the holidays; the gift giving is a fun part too but shouldn’t cause us stress.
Here are some ideas for making the holidays more enjoyable:
- Set a total budget amount for gift giving, decorations, food and evenings out – this should be a reasonable amount based on your income level. List the people you will buy gifts for and allocate a gift idea and/or dollar amount to each person. Be careful not to get caught up in the excitement of spending money on gifts – stick to your list.
- Have an honest conversation with family members regarding price limits or ideas such as only buying for the children, drawing a name for only one person or buying a gift for the whole family rather than an individual.
- Shopping locally can really help with your budget – not to mention save you time. There are many local shops with unique gift items at reasonable prices. Also check out thrift stores as there are many gently used items which can make excellent gifts.
- Instead of buying wrapping paper use old newspapers, magazines or flyers and finish off the package with colourful string. Gift tags made from last year’s holiday cards also works well and saves money.
- Do you make amazing Nanaimo bars, baked bread or some other kind of treat? These make wonderful gifts and can usually be put in the freezer to enjoy after the holiday.
- If you know someone who has an artistic talent, ask if they will create a personalized gift for someone you love.
- For seniors the gift of time means so much. A visit to Butchart Gardens or dinner at a local restaurant is very well received.
- For children a gift of an experience is a good way to stay within your budget. A promise of movie tickets to Star Cinema or a visit to Panorama Leisure Centre for swimming or skating will be something a child will look forward to after the rush of other gifts has faded.
- Agree to not exchange gifts with your spouse except for a stocking filled with funny and different items.
Following a budget all year long is an excellent idea and helps us to understand our spending habits. You can use more sophisticated tools such as a spreadsheet or software, but an old fashioned manual ledger also works well.