How to Budget: Holiday Edition

The holidays are a time of peace, love, and spending time with those who are close to your heart. It can also be a stressful time trying to pick out the perfect gift while staying under budget. Before your blood pressure starts to spike with the thought of this, take a deep breath, and read these 3 tips on how to stay on budget and make holiday shopping fun and stress free!


The key to success in staying under budget while spending for the holidays is planning. Around this time of the year, I plan out a budget for Christmas. I have included the  same template that I use at the end of this blog so feel free to download it and use it. It is really easy  to use because all you need to do is figure out your budget and how many people you need to plan for. Here is how I use it:

I start by putting together a list of all the people I need to buy gifts for. people

Then, I decide how much money I want to spend on all of the presents combined.

Total Budget

If I want to spend $100 total on gifts, I  divide it by the number of people I am buying for so I can find out what my budget will be per person. In my example, I have a budget of $12.50 for each person.

Another way you can budget is by using the Goal Seek function in Excel. This allows you to choose what you want to spend on each person and it will show you what your budget would need to increase by.

If you want to use this tool, follow these instructions:

Click on the Data tab in Excel and click on the What- If Analysis drop down.

What if analysis

Then click on Goal Seek

Goal Seek

You want to use $12.50 as your set cell because this is the cell that will change. Say you want to increase the spend to $25 per person. You will want to set the value to $25. By doing this, you will be increasing the total amount, so $100 will be your changing cell. In other words, you will be changing your per person budget which is $12.50 to $25 by changing the total cell which is $100. This function will only work when there are formulas involved. My spreadsheet has the correct formulas so Goal Seek will work.

Goal Seek Instructions

By changing the amount per person to $25, my total budget increased by $100 for a total of $200.

Goal seek final

This is a really great tool for figuring out how much you want to spend on each person. I encourage you to use this tool until you find a budget that you are comfortable with.

This might seem like a little overkill, but trust me this is going to help you so much. Planning out any type of expense is absolutely crucial because it is very easy to over spend without a plan. I use this every year and come in well under budget. I typically use the left over money to get my relatives more presents because I was able to save more money. It takes the stress out of shopping this way and makes it more fun because you get to be creative with finding the best price.


My goal every year is to get all my Christmas shopping done by Black Friday. Once you have planned the gifts you are buying for each person, start shopping early to beat the lines and get the best price. I am one of those crazy people that goes out on Black Friday to get a good deal. I usually have most of the gifts and just need to pick up the last few that I know will be on sale. I already have made out my list of presents for each person and the budget that I need to stay within by this point.

Online shopping is also another great way to beat the line and compare prices much easier. I check multiple websites to find the best deal. This usually takes me a considerable amount of time, but it is worth it in the long run. I plan out a day to compare prices and it usually takes me most of the day. If you are willing to put in the time and effort, you will get the best prices.


Aside from actually setting a budget, it is important to track your actual spending to your budget. This will help you understand how much money you have left to spend. I always come in under budget when I track my spending. The great part about this is you can save the left over money and use it for another time or use it to buy something more for someone on your list or even yourself. In my template, I have a column for tracking your actual spending against your budget and showing you how much money you will have left.

I hope you enjoyed this article and found it helpful. Below is the spreadsheet that I use for budgeting and hopefully you will use too!

Christmas Budget-Example

Catch my next YouTube video on Wednesday, November 22 on my newest business casual clothes. My next blog post will be next Saturday.

Feel free to send me any topics that you would like me to talk about in future blogs with the form below. Thanks so much for reading and I will talk to you soon!


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