A big anniversary may require a big gift — or a gift that’s “big” to you. Husbands and wives are smart to plan big anniversary gift purchases into their home budgets.
You’ve got a big anniversary coming up, and you’d love to mark it with a big jewelry gift, but the same bills and expenses that are there every month aren’t going away. Don’t worry. With a little planning, you can create a budget that can allow you to get him that special watch or her that diamond anniversary band.
Many people are already using a program like Quicken or Mint.com to manage their household budgets. Simply add a category to help plan for this, and other large purchases. If you’re more comfortable doing it on a spreadsheet, do that.
Whatever way you go, there are steps that will help you get a handle on your finances — and that may be a second present to you and your spouse that will last as long as the jewelry you pick for an anniversary gift.
1. Record your income
And that means all of your income, salaries after taxes (what actually comes home), investment interest and regular money that comes in, like from a trust.
2. Record all your expenses
It’s easy to figure out some regularly occurring expenses, including mortgage, utilities, mobile phone, loan payments (car, credit cards, student loans) and any fixed monthly or yearly payments (like homeowners’ associations).
Then dig in and try to really estimate other expenses that vary — groceries, dining out and other entertainment, gas, car repairs and maintenance. This is where the programs come in handy — they can record much more exactly than you may be able to remember.
3. Figure out your monthly spending
Figure out your monthly income and expenses. Add up all your income and all your expenses and divide both numbers by 12 to see what you’ve got on a monthly basis. Keep in mind that there will be actual variances month to month — this gives you a big-picture view.
4. Compare income to expenses
If your income is greater than your expenses, congratulations. You’ve just made it easier on yourself. Simply set aside a portion of the income to create a fund for the anniversary gift.
If your numbers are coming out on the negative side of the equation — if your expenses are more than your income, it’s time to look hard at what’s going out. Is there any place you can pull back? If you’re spending a lot more on takeout or dining out than you expected, perhaps a few nights in could free up some money.
5. Build toward your goal
By now, you’ve got a realistic look at your finances. If you’ve found extra money every month, earmark it as a fund for your anniversary gift. If you’ve figured out ways to cut some expenses, use that newly found money. If, like a lot of us, you’re pretty much tapped, it’s time to consider whether you can add an extra expense to your credit load.
If your credit card balance is reasonable, and you know you can pay a purchase down, slap that plastic down. But also take into account that there may be other credit cards with more favorable terms, lower interest rates or those that offer more bonus points. Take a clear and calculated look at this option.
Also consider that jewelry stores themselves may offer their own credit programs, often with better terms and interest rates than your credit card company, including some that offer “no interest.”
If you follow this simple method, there’s really no reason you can’t celebrate that special anniversary with a spectacular gift.