According to this article, just 31% of "consumers" plan to set a holiday budget this year. And nearly half of those surveyed were concerned about being able to afford holiday expenses.
I've done our budget for the holiday season, which is generally similar to the our budget from the last few years. That is the great thing about budgets, once you set them up they are quite easy to tweak. And, I'm here to say that holiday budgets don't have to painful at all. We also have an ING holiday savings fund and we save for the holidays each month, which makes the holiday spending that much easier.
Our budget is about $1000. We don't have children and we generally, there is still a hold out or two, do not exchange gifts with adults in our families. So, I recognize that our family set up is designed, purposefully, to limit holiday spending and gifting.
First, we send out 70 holiday cards, it is an investment in money, costs about $200, but we like to check in with far flung friends and family at least once a year.
Second, as I mentioned above, we don’t buy gifts for adults. I do send holiday wreathes, another $200, and if I’ve found the perfect gift for a family member I may send it during the holiday season. The holiday wreathes, a fundraiser, also support one of my favorite charities.
Third, for the kids in the family, I give them cash for college and send them a little something, $250 ($50 in cash for 4 kids and $50 for 4 little gifts).
Fourth, I budget $50-$60 for work gifts.
Fifth, we budget $100 for misc. expenses, hostess gifts, our Christmas tree, cookie baking (which we give to our neighbors).
Finally, $50 bucks for stocking stuffers for my husband and our dog. We don’t normally give each other gifts, instead we are taking a trip this year which was already budgeted in our travel savings account so it doesn't get funded from the holiday account.
And last but not least, I sponsor a needy child through a charity for which I sit on the board of directors. $100 for clothes and books.
We have come to the realization, after many years, that shopping during the holiday season, buying gifts for folks in our families (who really have everything they could ever want), wrapping and shipping gifts, is just not what we care to do during the holidays. So we decided not to do it and almost everyone in our families is agreeable. Our biggest holiday project is the holiday card, which I've already created and ordered, came to $75, plus postage will total @$105 (so I have extra money in that category), and our holiday list is in an Excel spreadsheet that I just update each year and Mr. Sam prints out the labels.
What is your plan for the holidays, do you have a budget, a handy "Christmas account"?