As the Holiday Season is now in full swing, this can be the most challenging time of the year for one’s budget. Of course, any of us would say that spending time and making memories with family and friends is priceless, unfortunately, in reality it isn’t. For example, my roundtrip plane ticket from Philly to Indianapolis cost $436 for Thanksgiving (not including gas and parking in Philly). However, I’d be the first to say it’s a small price to pay to get to spend quality time with my family. And that’s why my budget has been helpful leading up to this point.

I was able to allocate money each week to put towards that trip and not feel overwhelmed by paying $436 out of the blue. Rather I used the accumulation of $50 each week for about two months.  My mom always used to say, “You can’t eat an elephant all in one bite, but you have to eat it one bite at a time” to keep me from being discouraged when I was younger, and it still holds true, especially in the context of budgeting.

Obviously, life happens and opportunities come up faster than you have time to save in advance. But taking the time to look at the calendar and say, I plan to go home for these holidays or events (or likewise I know I want to go on a vacation the 3rd week of August) can help you enjoy these “priceless” experiences. But also allow you to stick to a budget and hopefully feel a little more financially in control.

As most of us know, that trip to visit family and friends is going to cost more than just a plane ticket or gas for the long car ride. There will many opportunities to go out to eat or share experiences together like going to the movies, going to football games, or attending holiday-related events, and of course in reference to the Holidays- shopping! But if you are able to plan for a little cushion in your budget in advance for these memory-making opportunities and also pick and choose which ones will be the most worthwhile, it can help your overall budget.

Creating a budget (aka getting organized!) or saving money are generally some of the top New Year’s resolutions.[1] So being a little more financially aware or even starting your budget before January 1st can give you a head start among many other Americans in their journey to feeling more financially in control. Also starting now can prevent the big irrational spending—like buying a $5,999 massage chair from Brookstone because it is on sale for $4,999. But thankfully, that wouldn’t be an issue for you all, since Brookstone no longer has those famous massage chairs, but you get the picture. Your budget doesn’t have to be ruined because of the Holidays, with a little planning and price-tag awareness, you can enter into the New Year feeling a bit more confident in your financial situation!