Developing a Gift Budget for the Entire Year!

Developing a Gift Budget for the ENTIRE YEAR!

Do you want to know another reason why I love December so much?  Aside from Christmas and all the festive-wonderfulness?

It may seem odd, but I love that it’s almost January.

January, for me, is the beginning of all things new.  A new year.  New goals.  New resolutions.  New budgets.  New excuses to get things organized!

And now that our Christmas shopping is coming to a close and the last bit of our 2013 gift fund is being spent, I’m getting close to jumping into our new 2014 budget.  And that’s exciting!

Today, I’m going to share a few budgeting secrets for developing a working Gift Budget.

1) Get both your husband and yourself on the same page.

 Don’t take the ‘financial reigns’ away from your husband.  Especially if your husband is bringing in the paychecks, it follows that he should have a large input in how it’s spent.  Each year, my husband and I sit down together and decide who we need to buy for.  Some guys could care less and will happily pass that responsibility onto you.  Others might care a bit more.  Either way, be sure you align your priorities as much as possible.

2)      Make a list. 

Why?  Because LISTS ARE AWESOME!  Lists are an amazing tool for getting the big picture and organizing large-scale things into smaller, more manageable bites!

Make a list of every family member or friend that you’d like to give a gift to this year.  Include both birthday and Christmas gifts.  If you know of any weddings or baby showers on the horizon, include those as well.

3)      Make a budget for EACH GIFT.

 In the past, we’ve tried setting a month-by-month spending goal for our gifts.  This has never been successful.

We would have months where only one or two lucky people needed gifts (and those lucky ducks got large, nice ones).  Then we’d have a month where there were five birthdays, two baby showers, and a wedding.  We had to choose between getting everyone tiny, modest gifts (Here’s a pair of socks for your little one!  Congratulations!) or inevitably overspending.

Instead, what has worked better for us is to budget a specific amount for each person ahead of time.  ‘This amount’ for closer family members, ‘this amount’ for friends, ‘this amount’ for acquaintances, etc.

4) Buy gifts ahead of time.

Part of why I like having my budget nailed down in December, is because January is a GREAT time to go shopping.  Seriously.  With all those left-over holiday deals and nobody buying them (because they’re all broke from Christmas), if you are part of the lucky few who planned ahead and budgeted, you can get some killer deals!  I’ve had better luck shopping the weeks after Christmas than I have on Black Friday, and it’s not nearly as crowded!

And if you’re already getting killer deals, why not stock up?  Bring your Birthday and Christmas list for the whole year into the store with you.  Check off as much as you can ahead of time while it’s discounted.  It’s an amazing feeling to have the bulk of your shopping done within the first few weeks or the year!

5) Keep that list handy.

Have that Masterlist somewhere you can refer to it often.  (I keep mine in my Home Management Binder).  Record what you have already bought, what you still need to buy, and how much you’re willing to spend on it.

If you have a month-by-month to-do-list, get into the habit of nailing down everyone’s gifts a month ahead of time.  Last-minute shopping is a terrible budget killer and knowing you won’t be surprised last minute is a great stress-reliever.


Does your family have a working system for gift budgets?  I’d love to hear about it!

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22 thoughts on “Developing a Gift Budget for the Entire Year!

  1. Hannah says:

    Lists are awesome!

  2. Tricia Regar says:

    Kelsey, this was so good, and so incredibly inspiring. We had two babies born in our church recently, plus an unexpected baby shower for a *third* baby (where a gift was kinda required ;-)), so I definitely had to “splurge” and buy whatever I could find. Even what I bought at our local kids’ second-hand store seemed expensive! :-p

    So now, whenever I’m at Goodwill, I’m going to start looking through their 0-6 month clothing racks, and begin to build up a small collection of baby clothes. That way, I won’t need to run out and buy something; I’ll already have some choices on hand, that cost a fraction of what I *could’ve* spent!

    This is making me think… I CANNOT WAIT FOR YARD SALE SEASON. :-p I LOVE spending 25 cents on a really top, pair of pants, dress, etc. Even spending $1.99 just seems over-the-top! ;-p

    • I'm Kelsey! says:

      That’s a great idea, about the baby clothes! Personally, I always feel weird buying Goodwill clothes as gifts, even though I’m perfectly happy to receive them myself. Of course, especially in the baby section, a lot of items still have tags on them!

      • Tricia Regar says:

        Yeah, I see why you’d feel weird about that… I guess it just depends on who the recipient is going to be. For many of the women around us, they already dress their kids in hand-me-downs/second-hand finds, so they wouldn’t mind receiving something from Goodwill! I almost make sure the item looks brand new–or in VERY good condition–by the way. 😉

    • Carrie Beck says:

      Kelsey, I am so inspired by your posts I wish I didn’t have to go to sleep so I can start immediately! 🙂 I already do this that Tricia suggested BUT I have never budgeted for gifts and that my dear is on my asap to do “LIST” 🙂 We have five birthdays and one anniversary every August and they are all immediate family so that $ amount per person is a 50 spot! I love finding NEW with tags items at resale and craigslist. My only problem is that I frequently get all of these GREAT ideas but my followup and follow thru is left to the wayside. Will you please pray with me that I will overcome my obstacles and put these ideas into action?
      Thanks in advance and Have a VERY Blessed Week!
      Your Sister in Christ, Carrie

      • I'm Kelsey! says:

        Of course, Carrie! The ideas are always easier than the actions, aren’t they? I come across that myself a lot. 😉 Thanks for reading!

  3. Tricia Regar says:

    By the way, I’d love to hear more about your family budgeting system. Do you have a budget amount for your clothes? Kids’ clothes? Do you separate your grocery bill from your “household” necessities?

    • I'm Kelsey! says:

      I do not budget for clothes specifically. It usually comes out of my for-fun spending money, since most of my clothes shopping really is FOR FUN and not out of necessity. We are given so many clothes from friends and family for the boys, I hardly have to buy them anything! I’ll do a more detailed post about the rest of my budget sometime!

  4. Cassie says:

    Oh my goodness, why have I never thought to plan out gifts for the entire year, or at least a month ahead of time?! My boyfriend and I are hoping to get married in the summer and this month we’ve really dove into getting ahold of our finances and budgeting, but a couple of weeks in I got frustrated with a couple of birthday/wedding gifts I had forgotten to budget for. (Granted the wedding was last minutes….like a 2 week engagement lol) But still, what a great way to relieve stress in your life.

    • I'm Kelsey! says:

      First off, congrats on the upcoming wedding! How exciting! Thanks for commenting, Cassie! I’m glad you found it helpful!

  5. Valerie says:

    I totally agree with you – LISTS are AWESOME! 😀

  6. Theresa says:

    Huh, these are some great ideas! And I’m glad I saw this before January, so I can make up a list. 🙂 I love buying gifts and would like to have the whole process more organized! I’m going to think about this some more… thanks!

  7. Jan says:

    I do a combination of the two methods mentioned. I plan for the year of gift giving and put an amount to each gift, add it all up, then divide by twelve and have a monthly budget. Some months go over a tad bit when we spend, but really the money was already allocated and sitting there to be used. So some months on our spreadsheet show no spending while a few months will be in the red for that month even though the money is there from previous months. It lets me look back at the end of the year to determine when our heaviest gift spending is. I have the spreadsheet set up so it shows me this months allowance and what’s available from previous months. As long as I stay in the original amount allocated for that person, I’m golden. I also budget in this category party supplies, Easter baskets, stocking, valentines day, anniversary dinner, and a little extra for graduation presents for local kids, last minute bday gifts for class kids, a couple showers, and donations we typically do as gifts such as toys for tots type programs in our community, etc…any special occasion I don’t want coming out of another part of the budget. We designed our own excel spreadsheet to track our budget. By using Christmas sales, I already have most of my kids birthday presents (I always add something closer to the time that is of a more immediate interest…buying ahead has gotten me in trouble from time to time when they out grow an interest or are developing a new one we want to encourage.), small items for a valentines treat (often a craft or family game), and the main attraction for their Easter baskets. I also plan for card, special wrapping expense like a new bag, and/or shipping into that persons gift budget. Those are little things that add up and make you go over quickly. Sometimes it’s easier for me to send a gift card for the amount to my sister and have her pick up my nephews gift rather than finding another gift that falls into budget with shipping. (Although these days, I rarely pay shipping anymore!) hope that helps someone.

  8. I only just discovered your blog… From the moment I read ‘ lists are awesome’ I knew I’d love your blog. I’m definitely going to be following!
    We’ve made a monthly gift budget for this year but anything that isn’t spend in said month (because of no occasion and such) will roll over to the following month. We also intended to put money away each week for Christmas… Buying presents before time is something I didn’t think about but would consider… It’s good to be organised, in general, but especially with gift giving. I’ll be taking some of those tips on board for sure! Thanks Kelsey! I’m glad to have discovered your blog.
    Bits & Bobs

  9. Debbie says:

    This is a great idea!

  10. Amber says:

    I just stumbled across your blog (thanks to pinterest) and my dear, you are a genius!! I’m expecting my first child (a baby girl!!) in April, and my husband wants me to be a stay at home mom. Your posts give me so much inspiration and faith that I can succeed at staying home, and not be just an added weight on my husbands shoulders! Thank you so much for taking the time to share our wisdom with us!

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