Worksheet

Map all of your holiday expenses to plan an accurate holiday budget.

The holidays are the most expensive time of year for most families, which makes the end of the year a much higher risk for taking on credit card debt that can become problematic for your budget. In order to avoid a serious holiday debt hangover from end-of-year overspending, you need to plan carefully and start budgeting early to ensure you can avoid relying on credit to make the holidays merry and bright.

The worksheet below can help you plan ahead of holiday expenses. You can use the link provided to download a PDF that you can fill in and use as needed to make your holiday budget. At the bottom of the page, we give you some tips on how to implement a formalized holiday budget once you have your spending plan completed.

Click here to download a free PDF version

Holiday Spending Planner: Gift Costs
Recipient Item to Purchase Planned Cost Actual Cost
Immediate Family
$ $
$ $
$ $
$ $
TOTAL $ $
Extended Family
$ $
$ $
$ $
$ $
TOTAL $ $
Friends / Kids’ Friends
$ $
$ $
$ $
$ $
TOTAL $ $
Bosses / Co-Workers
$ $
$ $
TOTAL $ $
Neighbors
$ $
$ $
TOTAL $ $
Charitable Donations
$ $
$ $
TOTAL $ $
Holiday Spending Planner: Non-Gift Costs
Item Planned Cost Acutal Cost
Travel
$ $
$ $
$ $
$ $
TOTAL $ $
Decorations
$ $
$ $
TOTAL $ $
Meals
$ $
$ $
$ $
$ $
TOTAL $ $
Guests
$ $
$ $
TOTAL $ $
Shipping / Holiday Cards
$ $
$ $
TOTAL $ $

Using your spending planner to implement a budget

Once you know how much you need to spend to make the holiday moments you want, it’s time to implement a budget. Ideally, if you’ve started early you can use your spending plan to spread out your holiday costs over a period of several months.

Essentially, you need a holiday budget that covers all of your spending with money you have saved for the holidays, along with free cash flow in your regular household budget. Free cash flow is the amount of cash you have left over once you’ve paid all of your bills and covered all necessary expenses. By using cash flow and savings to cover your holiday expenses, you avoid making extra charges on your credit cards.

This is key, because holiday debt often takes people at least a few months to pay off. During that time, interest charges are applied to your holiday debt in each billing cycle until you eliminate the debt in-full. As a result, your holiday expenses cost more on credit, because you have interest charges added on top of the initial cost of each item.

So once you have your spending plan, map out how many paychecks you have until the holidays. The costs included in your spending plan should then be spread out equally over the number of pay cycles. Does that cost fit within your free cash flow? If not, then you either need to scale back a bit for the holidays or reduce spending in your regular household budget so you can increase cash flow from now until the end of the holiday shopping season. Then expenses can be added back in.