How much does Christmas cost you?

How much do you spend on Christmas? Do you know?

The average amount that most American’s spend on Christmas is almost $1,000. Since Anchorage is in the top 20 out of 108,000 most expensive cities in the United States to live it’s probably safe to say our average is much higher. In my experience, serving clients in and around Anchorage for the past 10 years, Christmas budgets usually fall between $1,200 and $4,500. Christmas costs can get out of control quickly. Below are the recommendations I give each Artica client to enact before doing any Christmas spending.

Step 1: Have a conversation where you and your spouse determine the amount you’re both comfortable spending on Christmas. Be sure to touch on topics such as savings goals and debt pay down goals. Will spending on Christmas slow those down? Are you both okay with that? Make a commitment to stay within the budgeted amount.

Step 2: Once you have determined the amount you want to spend this year, the next step is to write down a list of all the people you want to get gifts for. This includes grandparents, parents, children, yourself, coworkers, friends, etc. Don’t forget line items for decorations, events, dinners, and parties.

Step 3: Then put the amount you’d like to spend beside each person or item. Total up all the amounts and make sure the total is at or less than your Christmas budget.

Step 4: The last step is the most fun. Go spend money guilt free!!! Be intentional with staying on budget for each person you’re buying for and keep your list with you. I’ve had clients go get a Visa gift card, fill it with the budgeted Christmas amount, then use that card for all their Christmas spending. This allowed them to watch the balance and easily stay within budget since once the money ran out on the gift card Christmas spending was over.

Since you’ve put in the time and effort to be intentional regarding the amount you’re spending on Christmas, you can leave the guilt behind. This step by step process also works for vacation planning. I have included an example below using excel. For my family I like to use good old pen and paper. Though I do add it all up with a calculator!