Better Budgeting: Preparing for the Holidays Without Pulling Out Your Hair - Part 1

Preparing for the Holidays Without Pulling Out Your Hair - Part 1

Financial Journey (featured column)
Submitted by Karen Kuebler

It’s that time of year again – Thanksgiving is around the corner and Christmas right on it’s tail. I thought it might help to suggest some constructive ways to help simplify the days ahead and keep stress levels to a minimum.

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This is an opportunity to get creative about ways to get what you need without spending an arm and a leg, and also discover new ways to make your life simpler. Bring your family together and brainstorm some innovative ways of doing things. Just because we have always done things a certain way doesn’t mean that we have to continue. I like the saying “If you continue to do what you’ve always done, you’ll continue to get what you’ve always got.” How about trying to break the mold of some old patterns, and create new traditions along the way?

Plan your holiday menus now if you will be serving meals in your home. From the menus, plan what things you will need to purchase. Start purchasing ahead – you can take advantage of sale items, and you can also spread the expenses out over the next couple of months rather than having to shell it all out as the holidays approach.

Begin now to make double or triple batches when preparing meals. Freeze the extra food for meals over the next few months. This will help tremendously when you are faced with cooking for the holidays and trying to get all of your gifts ready for Christmas. It will also be nice to unwind in January and have meals already prepared in the freezer.

Also, adopt the slogan “simplicity saves sanity.” Make simple meals. Use your crock pot, which, by the way, is also a great way to make extra meals for the freezer. Try soup and sandwiches, pancakes, eggs and toast, pasta and salads for dinner. Most often our labor intensive meals are in the evening – I look for ways to reduce the time in the kitchen in the evenings. We much prefer to spend that time doing something relaxing.

Think more broadly about what things you will need to prepare for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. Again, create lists of everything and anything that comes to mind. Some things that might be included would be gifts, charitable donations, holiday decorations, table settings, invitations, Christmas tree, wrapping paper, food items, baking ingredients, entertainment ideas, etc.

One very important outcome of careful planning and thinking ahead – you will avoid impulse purchases and unnecessary spending. Stick to your plans and to your lists. Once you’ve acquired what is absolutely necessary, make a pact to put on the brakes and just STOP buying anything else!

Are there other ways to simplify the holidays that you haven’t tried before? Do you really need to use your best China or can you purchase paper products from a discount warehouse or the Dollar Store? Or, as part of a potluck, ask others to bring paper products.

If baking is part of your annual holiday planning – as it is for me – think about what you can prepare ahead of time and freeze. There are a variety of cookies I enjoy baking and I can prepare the dough and freeze it several weeks in advance. This really cuts down on stress by spreading the work out over several weeks in advance of the holidays.

In next month’s issue I will share ideas related to saving your sanity when it comes to gift giving, entertainment ideas for the holidays, and tips for really enjoying the spirit of the holidays with your friends and family. This really can be a joyous time if we slow down, take deep breaths, and continue to think about ways to do things more simply!

Continue reading... Part 2

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Return to Christmas on a Budget

Copyright © 2004 by Karen Kuebler. All rights reserved.

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