Don’t spend the holiday season feeling stressed about spending. Download this Christmas budget worksheet printable below and enjoy this holiday season!
The average family is expected to spend over $800 this year on Christmas gifts alone. Add in decorations, wrapping, food, travel, and greeting cards, oh my, and Christmas could put you into debt for years to come.
I don’t want you to spend the holiday season in guilt, fear, and stress of spending. Just the opposite, let’s make a plan now so you can enjoy this Christmas focused on the true meaning of the season.
First, click grab your Christmas Budget Worksheet and then follow the four simple steps below to make it work to give you a stress-less Christmas this year!
4 Step Christmas Budget Worksheet
1. Total Budget
Talk with your spouse about how much you can realistically squirrel away from your monthly income for the purpose of Christmas giving.
Then multiply that amount by how many months you have left until Christmas. That number is your family gift-giving budget for this year. Or if you already have money saved up, write down that amount.
Seem too tight? Don’t worry, you can find tons of frugal gift ideas right here!
If you happen to be reading this in December, don’t fret. It’s not too late.
You might have to get creative and be careful about your priorities, but you can still follow this plan to spend within your means this year.
Plus, this is the perfect time to start planning for next year because everyone on your list is fresh on your mind.
How much should you spend on Christmas?
As I noted above, many Americans plan to spend $800 or more on Christmas gifts, yet according to one survey, more than half have less than $1,000 in savings.
You don’t have to be a mathematician to see that scenario adds up to a whole lot of debt.
As a rule of thumb, I recommend setting a Christmas budget that is no more than 10% of your monthly take-home pay.
For example, if you take home $3,000 per month on average, your Christmas budget would be $300.
If you make $10,000 a month, then it might make sense to spend $1,000.
Remember, this is a maximum budget number. There’s nothing that says you couldn’t spend less.
There are two big exceptions to this rule:
- If you are delinquent on any of your bills (rent, utilities, credit card, etc) or think you might be in the near future, cut this figure by at least half.
- Only plan to spend as much as you can save up in cash between now and Christmas. The last thing you want to do is to start paying off those gifts in the new year.
Simply put, budget for an amount that won’t keep you up at night worrying or trying to pay off credit cards in the new year.
The good news is, you can give your family a meaningful and memorable Christmas — without going into extra debt to do it!
If you’re out of debt and have an emergency fund built up and you want to spend $800, have fun!
On the other hand, if things are really tight this year and you find yourself searching for frugal gift ideas under $15 or even under $5, please don’t feel like you have to live up to what anyone else thinks you should spend on each gift.
I hereby release you from those expectations. Give according to your budget. And if someone makes you feel like that’s not good enough, the problem is with them, not with you.
I know you don’t want to disappoint anyone, but you can give your family a magical Christmas on a budget — and one of the best ways to do it is to plan ahead. So let’s keep moving on to Step 2!
Just a note, it’s not a good idea to rely on bonuses from work to cover your Christmas spending, especially since they’re not guaranteed. Instead, plan to use those for paying off debt or building an emergency fund.
2. Make a List
Next, write down a list of all of the people you plan to buy gifts for this Christmas, and all of the other holiday-related spending you expect to do.
I recommend listing these in order of priority. That way if you run out of budget before you get to the bottom of your list, you’ll already know what to cut.
Below is a list of people you might not want to forget to put on your list.
Now, don’t miss my meaning here. I’m NOT suggesting that you buy gifts for everyone on this list. I just don’t want you to leave anyone out and then suddenly be hit by unexpected expenses later.
Personally, I think the expectations for giving gifts in our culture have gotten WAY out of control.
However, I know people who just LOVE giving Christmas gifts to practically everyone they know. Neither of us is right or wrong as long as we have a plan and don’t jeopardize our family’s financial well-being in order to do our gift-giving.
People you might want to include on your Christmas gift giving list:
- Nieces & Nephews
- Other family members
- White Elephant & Secret Santa exchanges
- Teachers, Nanny, Babysitter
- Newspaper delivery person, Gardener, Mail person, etc
Other holiday spending to consider:
- Greeting cards, stamps, and envelopes
- Charities & Service Projects
- Special food and gatherings
- Gift Wrap, Ribbon, etc.
- Other special outings and traditions
- Family picture
3. Next to each person or item, write down how much you plan to spend on them.
The trick is to make all of your individual expenses add up to equal your total budget. If you go over the first time around, go back and adjust your spending plan until you hit your target budget.
4. Get some Frugal Gift Ideas
Brainstorm frugal gift ideas, and write them down next to each person’s name.
That way you can start looking for deals or doing some DIY gifts now.
As you shop, write down how much you actually spent on each item next to your expected spending.
Try to stick to your plan. If you decide to go over on some things, that means you’ll have to find ways to spend less on others in order to hit your budget.
How to Stick to Your Christmas Budget
Get started right now! Remember to decide how much you can afford to spend. Then write down who and what will make this year’s Christmas budget.
Decide how much you want to spend on each person. Finally, brainstorm gift ideas that will fit your budget.
By Christmas day you’ll have all of your presents purchased, wrapped, and (most importantly) you won’t still be paying for them in the new year.