person giving a gift box
Christian Living, Intentional, Money

3 ways to rein in that Christmas budget

Americans spend approximately $1,000 on Christmas each year.
41% of Americans are willing to take on debt due to gift shopping.
In 2019, 56.3% of Americans set a Christmas budget, yet only 64% actually stuck to it.
$15.2 billion is the estimated total of unwanted presents.

A number of years ago, as a family, we took a closer look at how we were spending our money. More specifically, we reigned in the spending and looked at ways that we could be more intentional with where our money went. We held firm to the belief that the money we had was on loan from God and we were called to be good stewards with what He has entrusted to us.
The process was not flawless and even today I can’t admit to being 100% intentional with my spending all the time. 
But, one area that we made an intentional focus with, and have stuck with it, was our Christmas spending budget. It can be so easy to overspend for the holidays. There always seems to be one more gift to purchase. Inevitably we end up buying gifts that we are unsure about simply because we feel like we need to. What results is frivolous over spending.
With Christmas just around the corner, (and some already starting their shopping for it!), the following are 3 ways that we can be intentional with our Christmas spending this year:

close up shot of two people holding a wrapped gift with a ribbon
Photo by Antoni Shkraba on

Create a budget. Be specific on who and how much. Then stick to it. I have created a simple excel budget sheet, available below, that will visually show you how much you have to spend and how much you have left – just plug in your numbers!
If it was good for the wise men… When it comes to purchasing gifts for your kids, stick to the number 3. Years ago we implemented: 1 need, 1 want, 1 book. It forces us to get creative but also gives a parameter to keep spending and consumerism in line.
Purchase gifts that give back. When you’re at a loss on what to spend, look for companies and items that do more with your purchases. Do they give a portion of each sale to mission work? Does your purchase support a small, local business? Often these gifts carry more meaning when the recipient knows the gift goes just beyond them.

As we are entering the “season of giving,” let’s consider these words from “God and Money.” This book was paramount in our pursuit of spending less on ourselves so that we could give more to others.

“Intentional and regular practices of generosity have been associated with the release of a slew of good chemicals, including oxytocin, dopamine, and various endorphins. These chemicals are the same ones released after a hard workout or after a particularly pleasurable experience…. Giving, it turns out, lifts up the human health as much as aspirin protects the heart. Giving even activates the same portion of the brain that lights up when you get a raise. You may not be able to control when you get a raise, but you can feel just as good simply by engaging in regular, consistent generosity.

Gregory Baumer and John Cortines

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