Is it me, or has budgeting for a holiday gotten harder over the years? After monitoring my spending over the past few years, I’ve noticed that my holiday expenses have increased significantly over time. New Year’s, Thanksgiving, and especially Christmas became days where I used to fear for my wallet. Now you don’t have to either.
This trend isn’t unique to me either. Over the past decade, Americans have spent increasingly more during the Holidays with each passing year. Even when the pandemic hit, we were still collectively spending more money on average during the holidays! People planned to spend less money, but actual spending jumped up. Can I blame them, though? After the year that was 2020, everyone just wanted to unwind with their families at the end of the year.
Holidays are meant to be enjoyed, but it’s hard to do that when you’re always worried about going over budget. To help with that, I have a gift: 15 of my personal tips for budgeting for a holiday.
1. Start budgeting your holiday expenses
If you haven’t already, you have to make a budget for your holiday expenses and stick to it. For me, I sacrifice part of my “wants” budget category during the holidays. That means no new TJ Maxx, Ulta, or Sephora hauls for the holidays. This way, I can spend money on gifts while also making sure I’m paying my bills. You shouldn’t feel too bad, though! You never know what you’re gonna get as a gift.
2. Start holiday shopping early
You might be under the impression that you have to do holiday shopping during the holidays. But really, it’s much better to do your holiday shopping early. This way, you won’t have to worry about spending too much money at once. You also won’t have to compete with last-minute holiday shoppers for those sales. Speaking of…
3. The season of sales
Buy during Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other holiday sales. When you make purchases during these sales, you save more money. This is especially useful when you’re budgeting for a holiday. I always end up spending less money than I plan to, thanks to these sales. The lines and rush will be a hassle, but it’ll be worth it to shave off 20%, 30%, or even 50% off your purchases.
Side note: if you’re buying clothes as gifts, I have a few tips for saving money there as well.
4. Coupons and app discounts
Sales aren’t the only way to save a buck or two. Apps and services like Honey, Rakuten, and Earny can help you find discounts on everything from gifts to holiday decorations. These savings can add up if you’re spending a lot during the holidays–and you will be.
5. Homemade Holiday gifts are great when you’re on a budget
When you’re budgeting for a few holiday gifts, you can save quite a bit of money by giving homemade gifts. Your loved ones might even appreciate them more than expensive gifts because of the thought that you’ve put into them.
6. Check at least two more stores before budgeting for a holiday gift
Once you find a perfect gift for someone, don’t grab it and head for the check out just yet. See if you can find something similar on eBay, Amazon, AliExpress, or even Facebook Marketplace. You might find the same thing for sale at a lower price, even after shipping fees.
Some stores, like Best Buy, even offer price matching. This means that you can show that you can find the same item for a lower price. Then, if it checks out, the store will sell you the item at that lower price. It might be a bit tedious, but every dollar saved is a dollar earned!
7. Don’t let marketing spoil your holiday budget!
Companies will ramp up their marketing during the holiday season to try and get you to spend more money. Stick to your budget and your initial gifts list, and don’t allow yourself to be fooled by all the ads. Remember: if you buy a $20 jacket for $10, you’re still spending $10 more than you have to!
8. The bargain bin is brilliant for holiday budgeting
Bargain bins are a great way to spend even less money during the holidays. Stores try to clear inventory at the end of the year. Most of the things in the bargain bin are perfectly usable, maybe just a bit “out of style.” But they’re still a great way to score some great gifts at a low price.
9. Consider out-of-season gifts if you’re over budget for the holidays
Getting your loved ones late or early holiday gifts can sometimes feel inevitable. But if you tell them that you can’t get them gifts right now, they should understand. Most people won’t mind and will be grateful to know that they’ll be receiving a gift at all. Holidays are about spending time with the people you love, and gifts are just a small part of it.
10. Use the envelope method for gift-shopping sprees
When budgeting for a holiday shopping spree, withdraw the entire gift budget in cash. Think of this as a way to set a “hard limit” on your gift purchases. This is called the envelope method because once your envelope is empty, you’re not allowed to spend anymore.
11. Buy your holiday necessities in bulk
Have a get-together for the holidays? Hit up your local Costco and buy party snacks, cups, and drinks in bulk. Buying in bulk means you’re paying fewer dollars per item and saving a bit of extra cash.
12. Want a holiday get-together on a budget? Have a potluck!
If you’re having a get-together, consider hosting a potluck. With everyone bringing food and drinks, you won’t have to worry about budgeting so much for a holiday gathering.
13. Set a budget for this year’s Secret Santa
If you want things to be really interesting? Set a budget of exactly one dollar and see how people can get creative.
14. Cut the Christmas lights from the holiday budget
Christmas isn’t about the fancy lights, so don’t bother spending on these “traditional” Holiday decors. Not only are they a hassle to set up, but they even add to your electricity bills. Don’t bother with Christmas lights–trust me, you won’t feel a difference.
15. Intangible gifts can be great too, especially when budgeting for a holiday!
Sometimes the best gifts aren’t the ones that you have to pay for. They can be the memories that you’ve made or the loved ones that you made them with. Money can do many things, but it can’t buy time, love, or genuine human connection.
That being said, this holiday season, I want to invite you to join our community of Wealthbuilders. We have a Facebook group, and I’d love to have you be a part of it. Membership is entirely free of charge, too, so you don’t have to worry about an entry fee.
As a group member, you’d have a direct link to me and other financially savvy sisters. You’ll also have access to insider information and personal financial advice. Give a gift to yourself and become a member today by clicking this link!