Welcome to the 9th Smart Money Debate at ReadyForZero! To see the other side of this debate, read Shannon’s post: Why You Can Go Above Your Monthly Budget for the Holidays. And then let us know which argument was more convincing!
This post was written by Dr. Jason Cabler, a Christian personal finance blogger, author, and speaker. He teaches how to get out of debt and live a debt free lifestyle through his Celebrating Financial Freedom blog and self study course. He can also be found on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.
When I was asked to participate in the “Smart Money Debate” series, I was certainly honored to be chosen. Especially for this topic, because I am a budgeting machine! In fact, I wrote the book on how to make a budget. No really, I did!
Anyway, for this debate I elected to take the “con” side of the question of “Should I Go Over My Budget for the Holidays?”
I took this viewpoint for a variety of reasons that you’ll discover below.
So let’s get started by discovering (or rediscovering) just what a budget is. A budget is a spending plan that, when you do it right, you spend all your money on paper before you spend it in real life. It’s like a road map that leads you in the right direction financially, and when you deviate from that map, it’s easy to get off track and lose your way.
Why Do You Need a Budget?
You need one because it allows you to tell every single dollar where to go. Every dollar has a destination. When you have a plan for where every dollar goes and you stick to it, you don’t end up spending more than you make, which helps to keep you out of debt.
Now that you know what a budget is and why you need one, it’s now time to answer the question you came here for “Should I Go Over My Budget for the Holidays?”
But wait, before I give my answer, let’s take a look at what circumstance might prompt someone to ask this question in the first place:
- Maybe you underbudgeted for the holiday season, and now you’re feeling the pinch because your shopping list is bigger than your budget.
- Maybe you’re becoming lax in exercising good financial discipline, and you want to give yourself permission to spend more than you planned.
- Or maybe you have just given up on budgeting altogether, and you’re hoping someone will tell you it’s ok to spend more than you have because you want to make everyone happy with a great gift, even if you really can’t afford it.
All of these circumstances are understandable, but won’t change my mind one bit.
So my answer to the question is a great big “NO!”, you should NOT go over your budget for the holidays.
A budget, in its full essence, is a tool that is specifically used to keep you from spending more than you have. Therefore, if you’re spending more than your budget allows, then you may be tempted to use credit cards and go into debt, or even dip into your emergency fund (you do have an emergency fund don’t you?)
Spending more than you have by blowing your budget is something that really should be avoided if you want to stay financially sound.
Blowing the budget is just bad financial karma, dude!
You put together a budget for a reason, so stick to your budgeting discipline and find a way to live within your means.
So What Should You Do?
There are a ton of ways to finance the holidays in a frugal way without having to blow the budget. Just do a Google search and you’ll literally get millions of results on how to do the holidays in style without breaking the bank.
Once the holidays are over, make a realistic budget for next year and start saving in January for next year’s holiday expenses. This is what my wife Angie and I do, and it works great! We haven’t had a Christmas financial hangover in many years, and duuuude, our financial karma remains intact!
To see the other side of this debate, read Shannon’s post: Why You Can Go Above Your Monthly Budget for the Holidays. And then let us know which argument was more convincing!
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