How to draw up a Christmas budget
A budget sounds about as much fun as washing the Christmas dishes, but planning your Christmas budget is the best way to allocate funds and track spending.
Used properly, a budget gives you a quick picture of whether your spending is matching your celebratory goals -- after all, what's the point of wanting Christmas to be all about your kids if you spend 70% of your money buying presents for work mates?
Knowing your family's fiscal limits avoids the financial fuzziness that can turn Christmas into a new year financial burden. Take a deep breath, and get ready for a debt-free Christmas.
Start your Christmas budget
Before you begin making gift lists and dreaming of plush decorating ideas, set the season's financial limits with a Christmas budget. Use our printable budget planner, or make your own using an Excel spreadsheet on your computer.
Filling in your Christmas budget
To create a Christmas budget, you'll need to create the spending categories, spending goals, and track ongoing expenditures.
Christmas spending categories
To begin, list all categories for your family's Christmas spending. Budget categories might include:
- Stocking stuffers
- Wrapping paper
- Postage costs
- Christmas cards
- Holiday photos
- Holiday meals out
- Baking and kitchen gifts
- Entertaining and parties
- Decorations and a Christmas tree
- Home improvements
- Travel expenses
- Holiday clothes
- Charitable donations
- Post-Christmas sales
Set Christmas spending goals
Next to each category, decide on a spending limit. Keep the bottom line in mind. When you've assigned a spending goal to each category, take a deep breath and add it up. Congratulations! You're one of the few who knows the true cost of the Christmas season. If that cost seems out of balance, adjust spending goals downward. Look for low-cost ways to celebrate the season without breaking the bank!
Track ongoing expenditures
After you spend money, record actual spending amount on your budget planner to stay aware of the costs. At least weekly, update current spending totals, and compare them to spending goals.