Saturday, November 5, 2011

Christmas Budget & Plan

I love reading about how everyone spends their Christmas budgets, and writing an actual plan makes me feel more accountable, so here goes! :-)

I keep a fairly detailed Excel spreadsheet, with the following tabs:
  • Gifts. This is where I track what I've purchased so far, and each person we buy for has their own row in Excel. Once I'm done purchasing gifts for someone, I highlight that row so I can quickly tell who I still need to shop for.
  • $ Transfer. This is where I track if I owe anyone money, or someone owes me money. For example, my sister & I regularly pick up items for each other (she usually knows best what her own kids will like, and vice versa). I also usually help my mom shop for my kids, etc. We both track everything & as we near Christmas, we add it up, double-check our numbers & even things out.
  • Budget. This is where I track how much I've spent. I have several columns per person - the initial budget, how much I really spent, and whether I was under/over.
  • Lists. I track any ideas for people here.
  • Notes. I use this section to detail any notes for the following year. For example, last year I reminded myself not to shop on Black Friday, because I primarily shopped for myself, thus wiping out any savings on my Christmas budget. :-)
Okay, now that you know how I track each item (I'm an Excel geek, I'll confess), I'll break things down a bit more. Here are the line items on our Christmas budget:

  • M - $100
  • S (our oldest son) - $100
  • N (our youngest son) - $100
  • C1 (nephew) - $30
  • C2 (nephew) - $30
  • Grandmother - $25
  • Grandmother's husband - $20
  • Aunt - $25
  • Best friend's child - $25
  • Best friend's other child - $25
  • Baking - $25
  • School (teachers, etc. I donate to the PTA fund that covers my Kindergartner's class, so this will be just for my preschooler's teachers) - $50
  • Christmas cards (my husband's family lives abroad, and sending gifts is cost prohibitive due to weight. Instead, we do a family photo session, and use the pictures for Christmas cards & to send prints to his family) - $100
  • Team at work (I manage a small team & pick up things like a coffee gift card for my staff) - $20
  • M - $25
  • S - $25
  • N - $15
  • Nephew1 - $15
  • Nephew2 - $15
Total estimated budget of everything above = $760. I like to create a slush fund in case we go over, I've forgotten any expenses, etc, so my actual budget is $1000. I try to stick to the $760 (and approximate amounts for each person), but then have a little flexibility if something comes up. I budget $333 for October, November, & December, but I try to be done by the end of November, so I may actually spend $333 in October & $650 or so in November, with hopefully no spending in December. (Fingers crossed).

Progress so far:
So far I've spent $435, and I'm approximately $50 over my budget. I have finished shopping for the following:
  • M (husband)
  • S (oldest child)
  • N (youngest child)
  • N's stocking
  • S's stocking
  • Nephew1
  • Friend's child1
I'm over the $50 because I bought more books than expected for my kids, but I'm okay with that as long as I keep it under $1000 total!

How is your Christmas shopping going? Are you on track? On budget? A last minute shopper?


  1. How do you keep to a $100 budget for the kids? Are they young? My older ones want electronics, and it seems to cost so much more. Ugh. I'm hoping not to bust the budget this year...

  2. Sharon - yes, the kids are young. (4.5 & 5.5, so kind of out of the full on toy phase, and not yet into the electronics phase.) Although, my 5 year old did ask for a phone for Christmas, because he likes to play games on it. I laughed. :-)

    And, to be totally honest, I went slightly over my $100 budget for the kids - more like $125 each, because I bought them more books than expected.

    I can't even imagining being in the electronics phase. Can you do a matching thing with them, where you match whatever they've saved toward their item? Look for a big Black Friday sale?