7/04/2011

Christmas in July - Counting the Costs

Have you ever wanted something but weren't sure how much it would cost?  Maybe it was a remodeling project, some landscaping, or perhaps a car.  It is very surreal to make plans for something when you don't know the costs, but frequently that is how many approach the holidays each year.  Without a real figure to plan for, we set aside way too little in savings because the costs are so indefinate.

Virginia Saves with some help from our friends at the Virginia Tech Extension Services have put together a planning tool to help you identify and plan for the costs of the holidays.  This budget worksheet can help you plan for all  the costs of the holiday and build a budget that will ensure that you have more than sufficient funds to meet your needs when the time comes.

If you read our last blog post, you know how to go about creating the gift giving list, but that is just the start of the total holiday costs.  With this holiday planner, you can plan for the food, travel, gifts and all the other incidental costs of the holidays and be prepared for the best season of your life!

If you need some help pulling together the costs, take a look at your bank statement from last year to get an estimate for the costs of postage, cards, food, etc.  If you use on-line banking or a credit card, often you can review history and get estimates that way.  Don't forget that with a plan in hand, you can look for special discount and sales in the off-season that will allow you to cut the costs and still enjoy a full celebration during the season.

Planning also reduces impulse buying as you have plenty of time to plan for and make the right purchases.  Advertisers thrive on incentivising you to act on impulse, but impulse buying can be very costly and not very satifying in the end.  The joy of the purchase leaves soon after the act and you are often left with the fallout of the costs of your decision.  Impulse buying disconnects you from your goals and priorities and drives you to act on the immediate desire.

Finally, buy building your budget now, you can make adjustments to your savings plan so that if additional funds are required to make your holiday dreams come true, you have enough time to make the adjustment.  You may also find that you may have been saving more than what was needed and you can redirect that spending to other priorities in your life. 

Planning ahead will destress your holiday and make this season the best ever.  Tell us what you did to enhance your holiday!  We want to hear from you!

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