How to Keep Your Holiday Budget on Track

I know, I know, it is only November 4th but don’t come at me! The holidays are a whirlwind for us, and I’m sure you as well. You have gifts to buy, family to visit and still keep up with your regular monthly responsibilities. So really, is it ever to early to start talking about your holiday budget?

The easy answer is no.

The harder truth is that we should have been talking about this MONTHS ago.

But here we are.

So, let’s get right down to it. Budgeting for Christmas and everything that comes with it.

Creating a Holiday Budget

If you are like me, you have just realized how dang close the holidays really are. Thanksgiving is only 21 days away. Christmas is just. . . wait for it. . . 52 days away!


In the grand scheme of things, we don’t have much time. Especially if you will be doing any traveling in the next two months. This year has straight up flown by!

But we still have plenty of time to make sure the holidays don’t throw us under water financially.

For me, this season has ALWAYS been more about the magic in the air and the time everyone finds for each other. That being said, Ben and I have made a few decisions regarding the big man for our kids.

Santa will be real in this house, but he won’t be bringing a sleigh full of gifts. Each year the kids will get a toy or two from Mr. Chris Kringle, and the rest will be from us or family members. Any big ticket items (looking ahead) will also be from us.

With all of that being said, we are not about to spend a fortune on the kids each Christmas. Mostly because that is not what we want this time of year to be about, as exciting as a pile of presents under the tree is.

We are lucky, we are starting this when our children are young and have no clue what to expect. If you haven’t done that, I don’t think you’re out of luck in any way shape or form.

Four Questions to Start your Holiday Budget

To start creating your budget for this season, you have four questions to answer.


Did you know you are 70% more likely to remember something if you write it down? Not to mention, when you write it down you have set a goal. Now crush it!

The starting line of any budget is simple, what do you NEED to spend on. That is how we are going to organize our spending for the holidays. Your question ranking might be different than ours, but here is how we suggest to start.

How much are we going to spend per kid?

Next up: how much are we going to spend on each other?

And finally: how much are we going to spend on the family?

For us, this last category is always the hardest because we both come from BIG families. I have a total of ten siblings, and Ben has 3 sisters. I also have 4 parents total, so you see where things add up. Because of this, we do a lot of “who needs what” and “let’s get a cute picture and Shutterfly gift” for the folks.

But don’t worry….gift guides are coming 🥰

After thinking about gifts, the next question is always: where are we going?

If you have family out of town that you are going to go and visit, remember there is a cost to that and be prepared. If things are tight, I would always recommend doing a “gift or experience” type thing. Especially with family. I know for a fact that my parents and siblings would rather us come visit than get a gift card in the mail.

Remember that this season isn’t about the gifts, as much as we all like that part of it. Memories last a lot longer than $20!

Planning Ahead

If you have set your budget and know what you are going to spend, the last piece is planning ahead. Does your kid want the new PS5? Check Black Friday sales! Like I said earlier, we ALL should have been doing this months ago. But its really never too late.

There is nothing wrong with buying slow and steady. Put aside $100 each pay check, and check a few things off of your list.

Another note is to take full advantage of second hand stores, especially if your kids are young because they truly don’t know the difference between a brand new Little People set and a second hand one. Here in Cincinnati we are so blessed to be surrounded by Once Upon a Child. For teens, take a look at Plato’s closet or keep your eye on eBay for new tech!

Bottom Line of Holiday Budgets

Holidays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, (whatever you celebrate!) are no reason to just throw your budget out the window. Remember that this time of year is magical for so many more reasons than gifts.

For me, it always starts with the decorations. Isn’t there just something magical about seeing all the lights? Cold nights, twinkling lights, and a hot cup of coco in hand is my paradise and I hope it will be for my kids as well.

This is also a perfect time to build your child’s character and values. Instead of focusing on the presents Santa is going to bring them, get your family together and check out light shows like the Festival of Lights (Cincinnati is better then everyone else, you can’t convince me other wise). Turn on the fire, make a bunch of breakfast food and have the family over for a Hallmark Movie and Waffle night. Dress warmly and volunteer with older kids. Younger kids can help pickout a gift for the school or churches toy drive.

And of course, if nothing else, mention Jesus to your children. That’s where Christmas started, and He needs to be apart of this time of year in any and every way.

Closing Remarks

Now, I know that this isn’t the most in depth post about budgeting. That was not the point of this article. The point is to get you thinking and not just throwing money at gifts like you have no limit. We all have a limit. And that is a GOOD thing. You don’t want to start next year with a mountain of credit card debt, or a missed mortgage/rent payment.

We have made that mistake before, and won’t ever do it again.

Maybe next year we won’t just set a budget, maybe next year I’ll actually think about Christmas all year and set aside money. A to dream.


Keep an eye out, I am busy busy putting together gift guides on top of gift guides. For Him, for Her, for Mom, for kids and…my favorite…A LOCAL GIFT GUIDE!

To keep up with all the fun come hang out on Instagram, and follow along on Like to Know It where you can shop links directly without all my chatter 🙂

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