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Amidst the joy and celebration of the holidays, juggling bills and shopping can be tough, especially if you’re living paycheck to paycheck or facing debt. Using a holiday budget spreadsheet ahead of time can help you enjoy the season while being mindful of your spending.

Key Takeaways
  • Plan your holiday budget early to help avoid financial stress.
  • Prioritize your spending by creating a budget and identifying discretionary income.
  • Limit gift spending, stick to your budget, and track expenses diligently.
  • Consider side hustles and smart shopping to stretch your holiday budget.
  • Save money with thrifty holiday ideas and mindful gift-wrapping
  • Don’t let financial worries overshadow the joy of the season.

Free Holiday Budget Planner

Simplify your holiday budgeting process with our ready-to-use template! Just click the link to duplicate, save, and personalize your copy.

With this budget template, you can easily estimate your expenses for the year and identify areas where additional funds may be required to cover your spending. Start planning smart and enjoy a stress-free holiday season!

Top Dollar Holiday Budget Spreadsheet


Our copy is locked for editing, but you can save your own version to edit as you please.

If you have a Google account: 

  • Click “File” and “Make a copy” in the upper left-hand corner to save.

If you don’t have a Google Account: 

  • Click “Download” to save the spreadsheet as a PDF or Excel file.
Make a Copy of the Holiday Budget

The Cost of Holiday Spending

During the 2022 holiday season, the average American was expected to spend approximately $1,000 on gifts, decorations, food, and other holiday-related expenses, according to The Conference Board Holiday Spending survey. This may not be surprising if you’ve planned a holiday budget before, but it can be alarming when you have limited financial resources and significant debt.

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Practical Holiday Budgeting Tips

Learn how to have a joyful holiday season without breaking the bank. Follow these practical steps and avoid increasing your debt by planning as early as possible.

Step 1: Begin Early and Review Your Financial Situation

Review your current financial situation, including income, expenses, and debt. Then start your holiday holiday planning and shopping early. Distributing your spending over several months can help ease the financial burden and prevent you from leaning on credit to cover costs. 

Remember, mandatory expenses, such as housing, utilities, and debt payments, should come first! Holiday spending should be limited to discretionary income so it doesn’t impact your other financial obligations. 

Step 2: Create and Prioritize Your Holiday Budget

Use your financial review to determine your discretionary income for the holidays. Then, create a holiday budget spreadsheet to break down how much you can allocate to gifts, food, decorations, and other holiday-related expenses. 

Chances are, your budget won’t allow you to do or have everything. So you should prioritize your holiday spending by listing the most important aspects of your celebrations.  Ranking them in order of importance will help you decide what you can and can’t live without. 

Prioritization will help you focus your attention and funds. Using our holiday budgeting worksheet is a great way to get started.

Step 3: Stick to Your Gift Budget and Keep Your List Small

While it might be tempting to shower everyone with gifts, it’s wise to reserve your gift budget for a select group of family and friends. You don’t have to buy gifts for everyone! A helpful guideline is: if you aren’t expecting a gift from them, there’s no need to buy for them. 

While it’s always nice to share your appreciation for others in the form of holiday gifts, putting yourself under financial stress is never advisable. As an alternative, consider a low-cost thank you note or a token of appreciation that doesn’t cost much but conveys your gratitude. 

Please note: holiday tipping is a different tradition that should be handled separately from gift-giving! Many professions consider it a cost of doing business with dedicated service providers, so you should budget for that differently. Read more about holiday tipping to determine if this applies to your circumstances. 

Step 4: Fund Holiday Spending with a Side Hustle and Shop Smart

Instead of relying solely on savings to fund your holiday celebrations, consider taking up a temporary side hustle for extra cash. You can find lots of side hustle ideas here to get you started. 

Also, look for sales and discounts while shopping to help stretch your holiday budget. Shop early to make the most of seasonal deals, and use coupons or price comparison tools to find the best prices.

Step 5: Cut Back on Spending with Thrifty Holiday Ideas and Mindful Gift Wrapping

There are numerous fun and creative ways to save money during the holiday season. Consider hosting a decoration swap, sending digital holiday cards to save on postage, or planning budget-friendly experiences instead of buying gifts. 

Also, be mindful of the cost of gift wrapping. Using reusable bags or boxes instead of traditional paper wrapping is a great way to save money, and it will reduce your single-use holiday waste.  

Don’t Let Financial Worries Ruin Your Holiday Spirit

While it’s good to be budget-conscious, don’t let financial stress overshadow the joy of the season. Making a holiday budget should help relieve your stress, not add to it. Using a budget gives you the insight you need to spend freely on things you enjoy while being mindful of your limits.

Keep Debt in Check This Holiday Season

If you need further guidance on managing your debt and getting support tailored to your needs, talk to a Consolidation Specialist. They can help you find an available debt solutions for your unique financial situation.

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