Prevent a costly Christmas with the Holiday Expense Tracking Spreadsheet

The Holiday Expense Tracking Spreadsheet is part of a financial planning series called How to Make a Budget. To start this series from the beginning, read the introduction.

Now that we’ve planned ahead for the holidays with the Gift Giving Worksheet, I want to look beyond presents by giving you a way to track all your holiday expenses in one place.

Sure, the Budget Spreadsheet has a space for the holidays, but I think a specific spreadsheet geared towards tracking holiday expenses can better help you deal with the varied costs of Christmas, Hanukkah, or your particular festival of fancy.

And yes, I am fully aware it is not yet July. But hey, go through some of your holiday gear this summer, unload your unused decorations at a summer garage sale, and make a list of the stuff you own. Knowing what you already have on hand can better help you plan your holiday budget since you won’t be spending good money buying duplicates of the forgotten stuff you have buried away in the basement. Yes, I’m talking to you. Smile.

How to Make a Budget:
  1. Your Net Worth
  2. Net Worth Spreadsheet
  3. Financial Goals Worksheets
  4. Needs and Wants List
  5. Free Budget Spreadsheet
  6. Free Budget Software
  7. Track Extra Income
  8. Gift Giving Worksheet
  9. Holiday Expense Tracking
  10. Windfall Planner
  11. Debt Reduction
  12. Student Budget
  13. Medical Expenses
  14. Emergency Fund
  15. More to come!
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In my own experience I’ve found that focusing on the varied spending activities during the holidays, rather than just gift giving, can show how the seemingly little costs add up. Smaller spends on things like wrapping paper, decorations, baking supplies, beverages, flowers, and even the ballet (The Nutcracker, anyone?) may seem insignificant on their own, but once added up can total hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year for one single holiday. Fa la la la la, la la la broke.

By tracking your costs during the holiday season, you’ll be able to get a grip on where your money is going since you’ll better know where you’ve spent the bucks, and when you’ve hit the end of your budget.

The Holiday Expense Tracking Spreadsheet

Like all the other worksheets and spreadsheets in this series, I think this one is pretty straight-forward to download and use. And yes, it’s free. :)


expense tracking spreadsheet

Download: Holiday Expense Tracking Spreadsheet

Use the Holiday Expense Tracking Spreadsheet to:

  • Estimate all your holiday expenses.
  • Enter actual costs and make notes on additional spends.
  • Locate sources of available and budgeted money.
  • Plan ahead for a shortfall and find ways to bridge the budget gap.
  • Focus on all holiday spending categories so you don’t go into debt for the big event.

After putting together your plan for gifts using the Gift Giving Worksheet, enter that anticipated amount into the Holiday Expense Tracking Spreadsheet. When you’re done tallying your expenses after the holidays, be sure to add these costs to the big Budget Spreadsheet.

It may seem like a bit of work, but looking at the little holiday spends, tallying the total costs, and bringing that number into the bigger budget picture is a surefire way to keep costs down and spirits high throughout the year.

Your two cents:

  1. Jules June 30th, 2010

    That’s a good point…it’s not just presents. Something I always forget at around that time of year.

  2. Houston July 4th, 2010

    How can you tell people to pay down their student debt. My student debt is consolidated at 3.25% and is deductible on my taxes at 25%. Blanket advice is how you help people to make bad decisions. Please explain why it makes sense for me to make additional principle payments toward my student loans and not invest or save for cash reserve?

  3. Riva July 5th, 2010

    I practice ‘intuitive’ budgeting. I used to track everything and then I got the hang of how much I could spend and when and on what, so now I stick to a budget without even thinking about it.

    Part of what makes this work is cultivating really simple tastes, traditions, celebrations, and desires. This means that holiday times are spent focusing on simple, low-cost activities like baking a batch of homemade granola, buying and washing a dozen second-hand baby blankets to donate to the humane society, going cross-country skiing with friends, listening to Christmas music, doing a jigsaw puzzle, listening to pod casts, watching holiday movies, decorating with fruit and branches, going on walks to see holiday lights, and meeting friends for hot chocolate and hot tea instead of throwing lavish holiday parties.

  4. Doug L. July 13th, 2010

    It always helps me to make a list of all the people I need to buy gifts for. By doing this a few months in advance, not only can I budget better, it also helps me keep people in mind and come up with more creative ideas.

  5. Michelle July 14th, 2010

    Nothing like planning ahead! Love it!

  6. Mike December 13th, 2010

    Another outstanding budget worksheet Kerry.

    Keeping your holiday spending in line will make the new year that much better!

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