If you’re on a strict budget this holiday season, it can be hard to not spend more than you should. One way you can achieve this goal (and not rack up costly credit card debt), is by implementing a zero-based budget.
What is a zero-based budget? In simple terms, your income minus any expenditures equals zero. When you’re budgeting for the holidays, it’s helpful to know exactly where every dollar is being spent. Here’s how to make a zero-based holiday budget work for you.
Jot down your total allotted income: For example, say you have $1,000 to spend on holiday gifts and supplies. Before you spend any money, make sure that your total is going to be enough to cover everything that you’d like to purchase.
Write down your expenses: Write down (or create a note on your phone for) everything including gifts, decorations, food, clothing, and so on. Beside each line item, jot down how much you want to spend on each purchase.
Subtract: When you subtract your expenses from your allotted income, you will want it to equal zero. If your numbers don’t come out to zero, move some dollars around or adjust until they do. You may have to look over your list, but once you’ve got it balanced – it’s a very simple concept.
Don’t forget to also track your spending as you go, and match it to your original checklist.
Another idea for next year? Set-up a Holiday Savings Account. During the year, you’ll be able to automatically deduct money from each of your paychecks and have it sent to a special savings account. The idea behind this type of account is to set it up so that you don’t see this money during the year and then when you need it for holiday shopping – it’s there.
Are there any holiday traditions you can cut out? Think expensive card photo shoots, excessive holiday outdoor lights, or exchanging gifts with every member of your extended family. Try to come up with easier, less expensive alternatives for these traditions – or stop them altogether.
If you stick to your original plan and holiday budget, you’ll be right where you need to be – come the new year.