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Ditch the December Debt: Start Your 2024 Christmas Budget Today (and Thank Yourself Later!

By Charlie M.

It’s over! Christmas 2023 is in the rearview mirror and a new year has started. The Christmas tree is down. The decorations are back in the attic, the toys are broken and forgotten, and now we’re all focused on the new year. All that is remaining are the extra pounds from the holiday feasts and the credit card bills from our Yuletide giving.

2024 can be different! January is the best time to establish your 2024 Christmas budget. Now is the time to look forward and plan now what you will spend for Christmas this year. Here’s a plan I’ve been following for several years, and it really takes a lot of stress off of buying for everyone.

Make a list of everyone you want to buy for today. Set a reasonable dollar amount for each person. By deciding now what you will spend you can enter the holidays without the guilt and stress. By deciding now how much you’re going to spend for each person you’re less apt to get carried away and shop with confidence knowing that everyone was thought of.

Here’s how to do it:

List everyone you want/need to buy for.

  1. Set a reasonable dollar amount for each person.
  2. Before you add them all up, add some dollars to cover those new decorations and wrapping paper you will want to buy. Don’t forget the office/workplace parties and Secret Santa gifts you’ll want to buy. Will you need to ship gifts to friends and family you won’t get to see? Add some for that too!
  3. Now, add this all together and divide by the number of paydays between now and December. That is the amount you will need to budget for each payday. Stash that money in a separate bank account so it’s not in with the rest of your money and gets spent. As the amount grows, you’ll be able to take advantage of that “perfect” gift that you see while on vacation in July or if you find it on a special sale. Buy it with your Christmas savings and just don’t forget where you hid the gift when it comes time to wrap it!

Of course, everyone’s family and financial situation is different, and you will need to set limits that are reasonable for you.

Here’s an example and you can record it and manage it as is best for you, but I like a simple Excel spreadsheet.

Mom - $150

Dad - $150

Kid 1 - $150

Kid 2 - $150

Her parents - $100

His parents - $100

Sister 1 - $80

Sister 2 - $80

Brother - $80

Grandma & Grandpa - $100

Aunt Susie - $60

Cousin Ted - $50

Office party gift - $25

Live tree - $100

Decorations & paper - $100

Total - $1,475

It’s at this point you may be shocked and say “We spend that much for Christmas? We can’t do that!” Or, maybe you think, we can be more generous than that. Either way, now is the time to make the decision of who makes the list and how much you allocate to each person. Husbands and wives, you need to agree to this for the plan to work smoothly.

Now, let’s do the real math. Take your total and divide by the number of paydays in the year. If you get paid twice a month it will look like this: $1,475 divided by 24 paydays = $61.46

If you’re paid biweekly, you’ll need to set aside $56.73. If you are a multiple payroll household, you can divide by however many paychecks you want to use.

I always computed it as a monthly amount and transferred the funds to a separate savings account monthly, but you do what works for you. If you’re still making payments for this past Christmas, do this anyway and you won’t have the stress next year! I can promise you, having set aside the funds during the year you can then buy guilt and stress free and really enjoy the holidays when they roll around in just a few months!

I’d be happy to share my example Excel template with you if you like , simply download the file here.

Serve.  Save.  Enjoy.