A Debt Free Christmas: Determine your Christmas budget. | Cents and Order

Reality check #1: How much money do you have saved up already for Christmas?

Is it a big fat zero? Or much less than you’d like it to be? I’ll be honest-mine’s a big fat zero right now too since we’ve been focusing on other financial goals.

Reality check #2: Do you typically end up putting some or all of your holiday expenses on a credit card?

Then the holidays come and go and you’re left with a bill. And guilt. You think that you shouldn’t have used the credit card. You think maybe you should have spent less.

If you didn’t take the time to cut your expenses before the holidays, after the holidays is probably the same too. So then what happens? The bill starts accruing interest.

January comes and goes. You still don’t have the money to pay off the purchases. Before you know it, it’s tax refund time before you are able to pay off the bill. You finally pay off gifts from the holidays and tell yourself next time it will be better.

And the harsh reality? It won’t be better. Not unless you change your habits.

Commit to making a plan and sticking to it. There is enough time until the holidays to plan accordingly.

How much extra money do you have to play with each month? If money is tight and you only have a little bit now is the time to start saving.

So how do you survive the holidays without going into debt? Or without guilt?

<h4?With a budget and a spending plan, you can survive the holidays without debt.

Now is the time to set a budget for the holidays. Instead of focusing on all the gifts you want to buy, think about what you can afford.

Determine how many pay days you have between now and Christmas. Depending on when you like to shop, you may have a payday too close to Christmas to get gifts in time (or in time to mail). If you’re one of those last minute shoppers braving the crowds on Christmas Eve, then you can count all your paychecks.

From October 1st:

  • If you are paid monthly, you have 3 paychecks until Christmas (unless you are paid at the end of the month, such as monthly on the 28th, then you have only 2).
  • If you are paid twice a month (1st/15th or 15th/end of month), you have 5 paychecks until Christmas.
  • If you are paid bi-weekly (every two weeks, means your check is always on the same day of the week), you have 6 paychecks until Christmas.
  • If you get paid weekly, you have 12 paychecks until Christmas.

If you are reading this later than the beginning of October, you’ll have to look at the calendar and figure out how many pay days are left.

Now think about what you can set aside from each paycheck and figure out how much this will give you-


You can set aside $100 per paycheck and you have 6 more paychecks until Christmas. This gives you $600 for your holiday budget.

If you have two income earners in your house, repeat the process for each person based on the number of paychecks they have until Christmas.

Do you already have any money set aside for Christmas? Keep that amount handy.

Now figure out your total holiday budget:

Total from paycheck 1:
+ Total from paycheck 2:
+ Current holiday savings:
=Total Holiday Budget.

This may be smaller than what you are used to. To avoid debt this Christmas, you have to work with what you have.