Christmas comes at the same time every year. So why do so many people go into debt or not create a budget for Christmas?
Christmas 2015 was the first time we ever set a true budget for spending on Christmas items. While we did go over that budget, we were lucky and still did not go into debt because of overtime that my husband worked in November.
However, I think we spent way too much money ($2000 when all was said and done!) and I DID keep track of everything we spent money on related to Christmas so that I would have a comparison for the next year.
Last year we set our budget at $1000 and ended up spending $1200. Not a true success BUT we still spent $800 less than the previous year. This year we are shooting for $1000 again and I am really hoping to come in under budget.
Some of you might think that $2000 (or $1000) is not a large amount at all while others might be in shock, but in the end everyone’s budget is going to look different – the important things are that you create a budget, you stick to that budget, and you do not go into debt over Christmas.
Our Christmas money comes solely from saving large chunks of money from the two “extra” paychecks my husband gets a year (we only budget for being paid twice a month, but since he gets paid every other week, we get two extra paychecks a year).
No matter where your cash comes from, I want to help you figure out how to plan your Christmas budget and keep track of it once you have arrived at your family’s magical number to be spent on Christmas this year – no matter what that number may be.
Decide Where Your Money Will Go
The first thing you should do once you have decided how much you will budget for Christmas is to list out all the people you
have want to buy gifts for.
Remember, you don’t have to buy a gift for every last person you know – even if they buy you something! I have created a printable to help get you started on your planning, it is included in my Christmas Budget Planner.
If you are not a paper person, you can skip right ahead to using the included spreadsheet if you like, but I think it always helps to write things down first before going digital.
You can add your own, cross out mine, or do whatever you want – I just tried to cover all bases to help jog your memory on who might be on your list.
For each person, try and come up with a gift idea and a dollar amount you plan on spending on them.
I think most people remember that they have to buy gifts at Christmas, but where the budget usually gets ruined is in the “extras”.
If you celebrate Christmas, then chances are you will need a Christmas tree, lights, wrapping paper, etc.
Don’t forget all the food you might need to purchase. Whether you are hosting Christmas dinner, a festive cocktail party, a cookie exchange, or just buying food and holiday treats for your family, chances are you will be purchasing items not normally included in your grocery budget.
Once you have finished brainstorming your initial list of items and people you will be spending money on this holiday season, you need to add up the totals to see where you fall in relation to your budget number. The spreadsheet in my planner does all that work for you!
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Track Your Christmas Budget
Writing down how much you are going to spend on gifts, decorations, and food is easy. The hard part is sticking to those numbers and keeping track of what you spend when you spend it.
Just like tracking your spending in your everyday budget, the same needs to be done for your Christmas budget. As part of my planner, I have included an excel sheet to make it easy for you to track.
All you will have to do is transfer over what you recorded on the paper part of the planner and let the magic of Excel run the numbers for you. You will be able to see how much you have allocated out of your total budget and how much you have left to work with – no math required on your part!
As you purchase gifts or other items on your list, make sure you record the amount you spent on each gift.
No matter how little the purchase may be, don’t forget to include it. Waiting to do this will only cause stress and possible budget errors.
Excel hint: You can easily add multiple items in the same row for one person or category (use the = and + within the cell such as =10+15), or create as many rows as you want if you like to see everything itemized out.
Please feel free to email me with questions if you are having trouble, but I promise it is easy!
What are your best money saving tips for the holiday season?
FREE Christmas Budget Planner
If you are ready to have a CASH Christmas, download my free planner to help you plan out your gifts and stick to your budget!