How to Create a Holiday Budget That Will Keep You Out of the Red

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Not to be like the stores I hate that bust out all next season stuff at the start of the previous season….but it’s nearing the time when I start shopping for Christmas. (Yes–I know it’s only October.) Reason being that I’m pretty darn busy all the time, and the husband is pretty darn busy all the time. And somehow for fifteen years he’s managed to skirt around not only buying for a single person for Christmas, but also around creating the holiday budgeting. (Yes, this is certainly something that needs to come up in our ‘meetings’ at some point.)


The premise of holiday budgeting


Anyway, I’ve found it easier to start shopping WAY ahead of time so I’m not scrambling around right at December 23rd to finish. I’d like to enjoy my holiday, too…I don’t know why that’s so hard for other people around here to understand, Gahhh.

But since I’m the one to do all this shopping, I’ve had to come up with a system for keeping track of WHO we buy for, and HOW MUCH we spend on them.

Why the super strict budget? Well, we learned long ago that we didn’t want to rack everything up on credit cards for the holidays, so I actually budget in an amount to set aside monthly to cover our holiday expenses. {Check out THIS post to see more about how to make a working household budget.}

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The money that’s put aside goes into what I call our ‘escrow’ fund, where an amount is deposited every month, then certain expenses are taken from it monthly. These include all the non-standard bills that are paid like quarterly, etc, but also includes gifts for birthdays and other occasions plus Christmas.




Here’s how I do holiday budgeting:


1.What I usually do is total everything up from the previous year. Then use that as my estimator for holiday budgeting for the next year. Remember that you’re depositing money from January to December for this!

2. So, basically you start out with a list of people you have to buy gifts for. I start with immediate family. Then I move on to any extended family. Then I add friends/neighbors and their kids. And last I’ll add people like teachers, the bus driver, etc. (I’m not sure how I feel about giving our mail person a Christmas gift…I mean, they’re getting paid to do their job, and half the time it’s not even done very well…so I guess that’s another story for another post.)

3. Next we assign a budgeted amount for each ‘category’ of people. Like each kid gets the same allotment, then each of our parents/grandparents get the same budgeted amount, etc.

4. Once the money is settled for each person, I start listing the things I’m going to buy for them, and add the cost so I can keep a running total. If it’s been purchased, I add a check mark in the ‘purchased’ column.

5. Also, I know many people love to use highlighters for stuff like this, and I do too–when it’s some of the last part of the list or something that’s urgent. But what I’ve found insanely useful is using a ‘grey-out’ marker for things I’ve finished.  I’m very visual, so if something is greyed out, I know I’ve finished it and my brain just basically ignores it. It’s somehow more effective than ‘checking’ things off the list for me. The more white I see on the paper, the more I need to get my butt in gear.

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Here’s what my holiday budgeting list looks like in progress:


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6. And the last part is to keep this spreadsheet. You’ll need to total it all after the holidays are over. And you’ll use it when you’re starting your New Year household budgeting. Divide this total by 12. Then put that amount aside every month to keep you from going in the red next year!


Ready to start your holiday budgeting? Get access to ALL the free resources in the STELLA NADENE Resource Vault! ?:




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Create your holiday budgeting and learn how to keep your gift expenses out of the red every year with a holiday budget that you save for year round. Download the free holiday budgeting + gift planner to never forget another holiday gift + always keep it on budget. #holidays #giftideas #budget


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