I know it’s the holiday season when every Mercedes/Lexus/Jag/BMW that I see on TV has a giant red bow on it and a surprised wife jumping with joy. Tell me how the guy in the commercial put aside the money for the car without telling his wife- Oh yeah, it’s Christmas on TV that’s how. 


Getting through the first holiday season in my new life will take planning, let’s be real, I don’t have as much money as I did last year and I don’t have a partner like I did last year, but more importantly I have my kids and family and friends who I love.  Sharing love requires time and money so let’s plan both carefully. There's a ton of pressure to deliver a merry Christmas for the kids, but there's no reason you need to spend a ton of money to do it.

First things first -Set Your Budget Before Anything.  If you’re like me and this is your first holiday season as a single mom the budgeting part will be tricky because ideally, we should have started planning back in January. Lesson learned for next year- let's deal with the current issue now.

We can’t be vague about how much we can safely spend. We must avoid credit card debt, incurring debt because of Holiday gift giving pressure is a recipe for disaster for the rest of the year. We don’t want to use our money in Jan-Feb-March paying down debt instead of building our emergency fund.

Look at your money calendar see your spending patterns. Can you temporarily cut back on anything in the meantime to compensate for the increased spending on presents? Look before you say no, look. Where and on what do you blow money? (Pumpkin Spice Latte’s anyone?)

The best way to figure a budget is to research and plan what you’ll get for each one on your list. Follow my Granny’s "Rule of 4" as your guide: She used it for her kids and grandkids, it can be used for anyone, really.  

Give each person something that…

They want
They need
They can wear
They can read

The great thing about this is that it puts a limit on how many presents you can buy, which helps focus your spending, and it helps keep your home slightly less cluttered.

The holidays are like any other predictable, non-recurring event if I’m prepared it’ll be easy if I don’t prepare and I allow my myself to be surprised it’ll be thermo-nuclear PMS. So, let’s prepare for it.

It’s Hidden Figures Time!

Begin by adding 10% to the amount you spent this year and that becomes next year’s budget. Divide next years’ budget by the number of pay periods you have at work. 

If you’re paid 2x’s a month that’s 24 pay periods. Divide your budget by 24 and that number will equal the amount of money you need to put aside each paycheck for your Christmas fund- Boom like that you’re Taraji P Henson (again)!

Put that money in a separate bank account preferably in a different bank from your checking and other accounts that way it's tougher to get to and keeps it safer.

Face it ladies; if we have our health, if we have our kids, if we have our families and we have our friends; Then we have a pretty good life. 

Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Hanukah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanza and a Happy New Year to All. 

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