Develop Your Holiday Spending Plan

Nov 21, 2023 Holidays

The holiday season is here – is your budget set? Read our blog for best tips on planning your holiday spending.

A woman sitting in front of a Christmas tree and holding a holiday mug.

A spending plan, also known as a budget, is a simple equation: Income – Expenses = Zero. But a budget is rarely simple. Use our four-step guide to build a holiday spending budget that works for you.

Steps To Follow  

Step One: What Matters?

Before moving forward, consider what matters most to you. Ask yourself these questions:

Talk with your family and friends about their thoughts and expectations for the holidays. Keeping these in mind, you can develop a plan that prioritizes your time and money.

Step Two: Sources Of Spending Money

With holiday budgeting, it’s important to first determine how much you can afford to spend by evaluating your sources of spending money. They could include funds from a dedicated savings account, checking account, credit card, or loan.

If you plan to borrow for the holidays, keep these tips in mind:

Not sure how much you should spend on the holidays? One rule of thumb is to spend no more than 1.5% of your annual take-home pay. So, if your net pay (how much you make after taxes and deductions) is $50,000, you should plan to spend no more than $750 on the holidays. Remember, this is just a guideline. You may need to adjust this number based on your current financial situation or comfort.

Once you know how much you can afford to spend, it’s time to break down your holiday expenses.

A woman staring into a window, there are holiday lights behind her.

Holiday Spending Survival Guide

Use our free Holiday Spending Survival Guide to easily keep track of your budget and following these steps.

Step Three: Expenses  

Make your list and check it twice! Use the Holiday Budget Worksheet to list everything you need and want to spend money on this holiday season.

  1. Write your total holiday spending budget at the top.
  2. Divide that total among the different categories (gifts, travel, food, décor, entertainment, and other). Keep your answers to the “What Matters” questions from above in mind as you make these decisions.
  3. Once you have the total budget for each category, think about what you need to purchase in each of those areas.
  4. For your gift budget, use the Holiday Gift List Worksheet to plan out your holiday giving then divide your budgeted gift amount among your gift recipients.
  5. Research prices and stores to find the best deals and make sure you don’t go over your limit.

Step Four: Track, Track, Track

Now that you have your plan, it’s time to follow it. Make sure you’re keeping receipts and updating your budget and gift list regularly.


The holidays can be a time of stress or a time of enjoyment with family and friends. With a little planning, you can make your holiday season one to remember.

A family blowing bubbles. They are laughing and appear to be at a park. There is a man, a woman and two little girls.

Save To Win® Certificate

Plan for next year’s holiday season and start saving with a chance to win cash prizes! Open a Save to Win Certificate and earn entries for monthly and quarterly cash prize drawings. Plus, when your certificate matures in a year, you’ll have holiday funds ready.

Related Articles

Banking on each other.
Building stronger communities.®