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Avoiding a Financial Hangover

Did you know it's possible to navigate Christmas without financial stress and regret? Let’s walk through it together (I’ve attached a spreadsheet for those of you who love a good Excel document!)

  • Step One. Decide how much money you can afford to spend on gifts. Write it down.

Do you have a number? Now, be sure that this is an amount you can afford. Cash money – no borrowing money or using your credit card to make it work, but what you can really afford. Please do not go into debt giving gifts that will most likely be forgotten, stuffed in a closet, or donated. I know that sounds harsh, but it is a reality, so don’t go broke giving Christmas gifts you can’t pay for.

Ready to keep going? Shake your head yes.

Okay. Now we have a number.

  • Step Two. Determine how many gifts you want to give. Generally, the people we want to give gifts to fall into categories. I’ve listed the main ones below.

Immediate family

Extended family


Neighbors/Teachers/personal services (nurses, piano teacher, hair stylist)

Other Christmas stuff (cookie ingredients, decorations, wrapping paper, charities, etc.)

  • Step Three. Assign a percentage of your budget (not a dollar amount) to each category. Once you have a percentage, you will write down what that equates to in dollars.

For instance, let’s say you want 50% of your Christmas budget to go to immediate family – then put 50% next to that category. Continue through the categories and determine what of the remaining percentage you want to assign to the other categories.

  • Step Four. List the people you want to give gifts to by name. (Okay, don’t get discouraged if your list is long. We will prioritize next).

  • Step Five. Based on the number of people in the category, how much money do you have, per person, to invest in a gift?

Ready to see an example?


Budget Amount $600.


Immediate family | 50% = $300

Extended family | 25% = $150

Friends | 5% = $30

Neighbors/Teachers/Personal Services | 10% = $60

Other Christmas stuff | 10% = $60

Total | 100% = $600

Then, list the people in each category and assign a dollar amount. Here’s an example for the Category Immediate Family.

Immediate family $300

Spouse -$60

Self -$60

Child -$90

Child -$90

Balance $0.00

Use cash, plan your purchases, stick to your budget, and ENJOY THE SEASON!

Christmas Budget Spreadsheet
Download XLSX • 17KB

Next time – cost effective gift ideas. Stay tuned!

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