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Put Your Christmas On A Budget: Why & How, Plus Free Printable Form

When you think of Christmas on a budget perhaps you think of doing without, and everyone sitting around an empty Christmas tree looking sad.

put your Christmas on a budget


However having a Christmas budget doesn't mean you are limiting your fun. Instead, it shows you are taking responsibility for your financial life and are taking steps to have a stress free holiday season.

After all, nothing screams stress like a credit card bill in January that you can't pay!

Creating a holiday budget is something everyone should do, whether you are tight on cash this year, or are Uncle Scrooge rolling around in your money bin.

put your Christmas on a budget
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Each of us should be mindful of our spending, because Christmas, and the holiday season in general, is not about who can spend the most, but instead about love, family, friends, and faith. Money is not needed for any of those things.

How Much Do You Plan To Spend For Your Christmas On A Budget?

That being said, people enjoy giving gifts, entertaining, and traveling during the holidays. Those things cost money. Do you know how much you plan to spend on your Christmas budget this year?

In a Gallup poll Americans reported that they planned to spend $743 on Christmas, on average. When you are talking about spending that much cash, for any reason, you should have a written and thought out plan to make sure you can afford that much, and that you really need to be spending that much even if you can afford it.

You have heard and probably thought lots about the commercialization of Christmas, and the "give me" attitude of our children at this time of year. Celebrating Christmas on a budget can help you curb some of these more vice like characteristics of the holiday, and get us back to the core values we most cherish.

Create A Written Holiday Budget

I urge each of you to create a written budget for your Christmas purchases this year, not just one in your head.

The reason to write it down is that it is then more concrete, and you are more likely to take the exercise seriously and really think about the amounts in each category.

In addition, a written Christmas budget holds you more accountable because you can project the expenses now, but you can also write down how much you actually spent later, as the season progresses.

The first year you create your Christmas on a budget is the hardest, because you have to start from scratch with your numbers and form. However, save your budget form you create this year in your household notebook, and next year use it as a jumping off spot to make the budgeting process easier.

Christmas budgeting form

I've created a free Christmas budgeting form (which is three pages long, and opens in new window as a PDF) that you can use to create your budget, if you wish, or you can make your own.

Christmas On A Budget - Categories To Consider

The most obvious part of a holiday budget revolves around how much you want to spend on gifts to give your family and friends. However, that is just one of many categories that truly reflect all that you will spend on the holidays this year.

The complete list of categories includes:

  • Gifts you will purchase (use this printable Christmas gift list to help you stay on budget for this category)
  • Supplies for gifts you will make
  • Wrapping supplies, such as paper, bows, gift bags, etc.
  • Decorations you want to purchase this year (and if you have a spectacular light display the increase in electricity that will cost, for example)
  • Christmas cards
  • Shipping, such as for boxes to be mailed to family far away, and stamps for your Christmas cards
  • Food, for parties, your own holiday celebrations, to give away as gifts, etc.
  • Any other entertaining expenses for those holiday parties you are giving or attending
  • Traveling expenses, such as gas, hotel rooms, etc.
  • Charitable giving this holiday season

I know this article is about Christmas on a budget, but I would suggest adding your planned expenses for Thanksgiving and New Years in there too, because this will more accurately reflect your spending for the whole holiday season, to make sure you can still afford everything you are planning.

Can I Still Afford This Christmas On A Budget Plan?

Christmas savings

Once you see all the numbers laid out you may gasp, and try to grapple with the question of whether you can truly afford the amounts you have put down.

Frankly, that is a good thing. It is much better to make that realization on paper than after the spending has already occurred.

A good rule of thumb is never to spend more money for the holidays than you take home in your paycheck for one week. If you are in debt, or cash strapped, your budget may realistically need to be even less.

Keep trimming those numbers until they reach a total you can truly afford. This exercise will help you examine your priorities and values, which is always a good exercise around the Christmas season anyway.

The Most Important Step For Your Christmas On A Budget - Stick To It!

Don't just fiddle with your numbers on paper until they look pretty, and then go off and spend whatever you want at the store. Actually commit to your Christmas budget, and don't spend more than you have alloted.

If you have trouble with this, try using only real cash and the envelope method to pay for purchases. Make an envelope for each category and put in it the amount of money you have alloted for that category. Then, spend from that envelope and stop when you run out. This concept is very simple, but truly works wonders!

For even more tips on making your holiday budget check out this Christmas budget how tos and video tips page, which provides more tips for making your family's holiday budget, and tracking your spending to make sure you stick to that budget.

Merry Christmas, and may you truly enjoy your Christmas on a budget and stress free New Year!

Christmas budgeting form
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Click for free Christmas budgeting form
(opens into new window as 3 page PDF)

Additional Free Holiday Printables On The Site

Here are additional free holiday printables available on the site:

Free printable Christmas budgeting form, courtesy of Household Management 101
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