4 Things To Remember When Making a Holiday Budget

holiday budget how to

Have you ever wondered how to create a holiday budget and actually stick to it?

Between gift-giving, decor, and Holiday meals, November and December mean extra spending for many. In fact, U.S. households spent an average of $1,536 during the 2019 holiday season!

Persons Banking Company spoke with Kate Miller, a certified financial coach, to get her take on four things to consider when creating a holiday budget. 

Keep reading to learn more!

How to create a holiday budget

#1: Be Mindful of Your Mindset

When it comes to holiday spending, Kate said to start with the end in mind.

“What do you want your family to remember about Christmas six months from now–or even 10 years from now?” she asked.

For example, if you want to remember delicious food, budget for a higher grocery bill. On the other hand, if you want your kids to remember the amazing gifts you gave them, focus most of your budget there. 

Kate also advised families to treat their budgets as an asset, not a restrictive device. 
“It’s important to remember that a budget isn’t there to restrict you, it’s there to help you make a plan to meet your goals–your holiday goals and your financial goals.

Related: Four Personal Savings Account Questions Answered

#2 Choose the Right Holiday Budget Platform

“The best kind of budget is one you will actually use,” Kate said.

So, consider your lifestyle when determining your budgeting platform.

“If you’re always on your phone, an app is probably the right choice for you,” she said. “I use one called “Santa’s Bag” that manages both your budget and your gift list.”

And while Kate also recommends software like Excel, “Don’t rule out good old fashioned pencil and paper,” she said.

#3 Dig Deep

Kate said that, when creating your holiday budget, dig deep and include everything you plan to buy for the holidays.

Consider adding these items to your budget:

Gift line-items

  • Immediate family
  • Extended family
  • Friends
  • Colleagues
  • Teachers
  • Coaches
  • Neighbors

Other holiday-related line-items

  • Gift wrap
  • Decorations
  • Holiday cards
  • Stamps
  • Family traditions (special books, holiday-themed pajamas, holiday activities etc.)
  • Charitable donations or events
  • Holiday entertaining or large meals


“Your holiday budget should include a lot more than just what ends up under the tree,” Kate said. 

Lastly, Kate said not to get discouraged if your budget is small and instead get creative.

“The library has holiday books you can check out, and you can decorate with holly snipped from the front yard,” she said. “A day trip to a Georgia State park with a picnic basket of leftovers will only cost you $5 for parking. Think of it as a game, and budgeting will end up being a lot of fun.”

#4 Plan Ahead

“The holidays are not a surprise expense,” Kate said. “We know they’re coming the same way we know our insurance bill is coming.”

So, Kate advised you decide how much you’re likely spend during the holidays, divide that number by 12, and set aside that amount each month. You’ll then be able to pay for all of your holiday expenses without any debt or without tapping into other funds.

“Our family saves in a different way. We are paid every two weeks, and we base our monthly budget on two paychecks, she said. “However, twice a year we end up with a ‘three paycheck month.’ We typically use one of these to fund our spring/summer vacations and then use the other for our holiday budget and home repairs/updates. Many different approaches work, just make sure you pick one and follow it.”

Related: Check out the Persons Banking Company Holiday Savings Account

And when it comes to gift-giving, Kate said her family is intentional throughout the year.

“We keep a running wishlist all year,” she said. “This is easy to do in a holiday app or as an Amazon wish list. It helps us to be very intentional and thoughtful about the gifts we purchase since we keep that number pretty low. Instead of just looking at a sales flyer or a display at Target and buying things on a whim, we have a plan.”

Wrapping Up

When it comes to holiday budgeting, it’s important to be thoughtful.

So …

  • Start with the end in mind and prioritize what you want to remember about your holidays.
  • Consider your lifestyle when determining your budgeting platform. (Choose an app, an Excel spreadsheet, or old fashioned pencil and paper; just be sure to stick with it.)
  • When you create your budget, dig deep and include everything you plan to spend for the holidays, including gifts, meals, and even things such as decor and gift wrap.
  • Plan ahead and save for the holidays year-round.

Kate left us with this final thought: 

“I want to encourage everyone to really take the time to think through the gifts they’re purchasing. Does this gift show the recipient that you know them and understand the things that bring them joy? Often a less expensive, but more thoughtful gift has a much bigger impact.”

If you’re interested in opening a Holiday Savings Account at Persons Banking company, call us today or visit one of our Central Georgia offices. For more information about Kate’s coaching services, email her at katemillercoaching@gmail.com.

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