I’ve found a way to budget for Christmas early and save throughout the year to ensure we don’t have a big surprise in December or January when the credit card bill comes.
Who posts about Christmas anytime other than in November?! Don’t worry, I’m not talking about starting Christmas shopping yet, I’m not that ambitious. However, I do have a tip for how to ensure you won’t have another rough end of the year, wondering how you’ll pay for Christmas.
Creating a Budget
Create a budget now and start putting away money monthly into a savings account for gifts. We do this not only for Christmas but also for birthdays and other holidays that we know we’ll be buying presents for. This way when the event comes up you aren’t stuck wondering where the extra money for gifts is coming from. We have our bank account set up to automatically withdraw a certain amount of money each month from checking into the gifts savings account, that way we don’t even have to think about it.
We have a spreadsheet in which we have everyone’s names, birthdays, and holidays for which we buy presents such as Christmas, Birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and other holidays. We decide on an amount we’ll spend on each person for each event and enter it into the sheet.
We have each column totaled at the bottom then add up all the columns to come up with what we need for presents for the whole year. We then divide that by 12, how many months are in the year, and automatically put aside that number into a gifts savings account each month.
If you’re starting later in the year than January then divide the total amount of money needed for all presents by the number of months left before Christmas.
If you don’t want to make your own spreadsheet, enter your first name and email address above to get my FREE customizable copy of the spreadsheets above via Google Docs and Excel, and our monthly newsletter.
The customizable gift budgeting spreadsheet has the following features:
- An overall tab with the budget for the whole year and all occasions that you can customize.
- A sample sheet filled in for a holiday season to show how we use the spreadsheet.
- 5 Customizable sheets/tabs for the next 5 years.
- You can easily plan for more years by duplicating one of the tabs.
- The dollar amounts will calculate as you enter the amount you intend to spend for each person, as well as what you have spent, to then show what you have left to spend for that year.
- If you need to add rows for more people, as long as you add rows in the middle of the spreadsheet the columns will add up correctly at the bottom.
- The age column will automatically update every year based on the birthdate you put in.
The Best Laid Plans…
To be fully transparent, we don’t always stay within budget. Sometimes we’re under but more often we’re over budget. We try to not go more than $10 over budget per person per holiday because we don’t want it to get out of hand. If we find we’re going over budget a lot then we look at the budget again and adjust our savings amount.
We also make sure that if we go over budget, we only reimburse ourselves from the gifts savings account for the amount we were supposed to spend, not what we actually spent. That way we won’t end up with a negative balance in the gifts account if we keep overspending.
This budget is just one spreadsheet of a multi-tab spreadsheet that we use to budget our lives. We have a monthly budget, dreams budget, budgets whenever we have considered a job change, a move, etc. It’s not that we don’t have money, it’s that we want to ensure we are spending within our means and also have enough left over for savings and college funds every month. This allows us to live comfortably and not worry about money.
As a mom of identical twins and a son two years older, I have gained invaluable experience in the realm, and chaos, of parenting. With a Master's Degree and Education Specialist Degree in School Psychology, I spent years as a school psychologist, helping children navigate through their educational and emotional challenges. Now as a stay at home mom and professional blogger, I combine my areas of expertise to help you in your parenting journey.