40-Day Challenge Day 4

Create a detailed Spending Plan. Identify your categories: gifts, baking, cards, entertaining, travel, etc. Write down the total amount you have to spend, where it will come from, and how you will divvy it up. 

Listen …


It is vital that your holiday planning includes a specific and detailed spending plan, designating the overall amount you plan to spend and the ways you plan to spend it.

To start, make a chart that will allow you to visualize your spending categories, including gifts for kids, spouse, grandparents, other relatives, friends, service givers, coworkers, and employees; gift wrapping; Christmas cards, postage, and a photo session; baking ingredients; tree and home decorations; admission for holiday events; babysitting and travel costs; charitable donations; new clothes; etc.

In a column with the heading “$ Amount Plan,” write down the amount of money you plan to spend on each category.

Total all the categories to see how much cash you will need for your expected holiday expenses. Whoa. It’s probably a lot more dough than you anticipated or even available now.

Did you ever dream your holiday expenses were so huge? No wonder Christmas has sent you to credit cards in the past. Likely, your list will need scaling down; now is the time to do it.

I hope you’ve used a pencil because you’ll need to do a lot of erasing and refiguring. First, erase the total and write instead the total cash you intend to have available for the Christmas holidays. You may have to resharpen that pencil often before you get your expected spending to match your total available cash.

If the list is out of balance—your expenses exceed your available cash—start whittling down that enormous gift list. We often feel compelled to give a gift when a nice card, photo of the kids, or a personal note would convey the intended goodwill. Go through your list with this in mind, and put a star next to those who will be getting cards as gifts this year.

If you still have a discrepancy, there are two things you can do: reduce expenses even further or find ways to come up with more cash.

How are you doing? Please share, discuss, and ask in the comments below.




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6 replies
  1. Linda Radosevich says:

    Kim, great ideas!
    We don’t have any small children in the family anymore and all the adults have MUCH more than they want or need. When my daughter was in college, she started giving gifts through charitable organizations – who wouldn’t want a flock of chickens in Nigeria, right? So, we have stolen her idea and now give gifts through charities to bless others and inform the recipients of the gift given in their honor.

  2. Luisa says:

    Kim, I love your ideas! The activity, the shared dinner out, and the book tradition sound perfect. You’ll make memories without winding up broke and exhausted.

  3. Cay says:

    I had all ready completed day 4. Christmas comes every year. It’s not an emergency. Every payday I place money in the fund. All year long I buy for Christmas, I place a sticky note with the persons name, the cost on the gift. Then I transfer that money to pay for the gift. In November, I make my list with the budgeted money I have saved. With the cost of food so high, I will to use some of my food budget to cover the cost. I stay on budget bc I don’t want to use credit cards! This year, we changed up our gift giving for family to ONLY one gift per person. Being together and celebrating Jesus birth means more to us than gifts!!! Mary, thank you for this challenge. It directs a person to a more meaningful Christmas holiday. Organized and less stress.

  4. Kim says:

    My adult children and I are not exchanging gifts this year. Instead, we are giving gifts to the grandkids. For the adults, we are doing an “activity” and going out to dinner. I love this so much more than giving gifts and adding more stuff to each of our households. Making memories instead of presents. And let’s face it, I have everything I need. On Christmas eve, we have a book exchange so we have a new read for after Christmas. It has taken a lot of the stress off everyone!


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