Holiday budgeting tips to save big

By Nooreen B Reviewed by Izzy M Edited by Sarah R
Modified on February 13, 2024
Holiday Budgeting Tips

The holiday season can mean a stretch for your budget. The good news is that with the right holiday budgeting tips, you can save money! 

Below you will find more information on holiday budgeting tips to make your money work for you during the holiday season. 

Tip#1: Start Holiday Budgeting and Set Limits

One of the best ways to stay within budget during the holiday season is to set a limit to how much money you can spend. You can divide this total between all the people on your gift list in whichever way you see fit. Don’t forget to add shipping costs for online presents to your holiday spending limit! 

Limiting the amount spent on each gift can help you find the perfect present for a friend, significant other, or family member. Setting limits also help avoid common budgeting mistakes—often exacerbated during the holidays. 

Also remember that tipping servers when going out to eat is important, but don’t go overboard. Check out our holiday tipping guide to learn more!

Holiday Budgeting Tip # 2: Start Holiday Shopping Throughout the Year To Get the Best Deals

Although Black Friday and Cyber Monday may seem like great times to get all your gifts, you may not be saving as much as you could. Instead of waiting for these sales, consider looking all year for gifts. For example, seasonal items always end up on sale; you can shop for those then. Or you may find a coupon or a promotion to get your holiday shopping done earlier in the year.

Here are some strategies that work well when finding the best deal when holiday shopping: 

  • Take advantage of price matching offered by retailers. 
  • Compare prices online and in several stores to find the better deal.
  • Look for coupons yourself, or use apps/extensions that can find discounts for you.
  • Use employee discounts from your place of work, or ask a friend or family member to use theirs. Or look into a holiday job for discounts on gifts. 
  • Research the time of year when gifts on your shopping list are in demand vs. when they are not. 
  • Consider supplier shortages, and buy presents early if necessary to decrease costs. 

Holiday Budget Tip # 3: Get Creative With Your Holiday Gifts

It may be tempting to buy the ones you love the best, most expensive variations of the holiday gifts they want. However, the holiday season does not need to be about excessive spending and consumerism. Instead of spending, save that money by getting creative with your gift ideas: 

  • Make a homemade gift / agree to homemade gifts with the entire family.
  • Gift an item of sentimental value. 
  • Purchase gently used items. 
  • Plan an experience with your loved ones to cut down on holiday expenses. 
  • Go through your unused things to see if anyone else would enjoy them. 
  • Spending time with loved ones could be the perfect gift for the holiday season.
  • Find cheaper alternatives to wrapping paper, seasonal bags, and greeting cards to cut down on holiday spending.

Budget Tip #4: Save Money Early for Gifts

Saving money before the holidays is one of the best ways to cut down spending with gift-giving. Start saving for the holiday season as soon as you can. Savings can help create a realistic budget for the holidays and help fund any unexpected expenses or gift buying that may come up. 

Having good financial habits and a holiday savings fund can help you avoid credit card debt or borrowing money from a loan for holiday expenses.

Holiday Budget Tips Beyond the Gifts—to Save Extra Money

When thinking about holiday spending tips, gifts may be the first thing that comes to mind. However, there can be other costs associated with this time of year. Activities such as social events, parties, and travel, add to the costs of celebrating—all within a few weeks within each other. 

Here are some saving tips for other aspects of the holidays: 

Savings When Hosting or Attending Holiday Parties

If you are hosting or attending a party, things can get expensive! 

Here are ways to save money when being a host: 

  • Make it a Potluck/BYOB— food and drinks can quickly become one of the most expensive holiday party costs. One way to cut down on time and money spent is by making it a potluck. 
  • DIY Holiday Decorations— instead of spending money on decorations for a one-time thing, consider getting crafty and making them yourself. Or skip the fancy decorations altogether and opt-in for one eye-catching piece, such as a simple table setting.
  • Limit Your Guest List to Save Extra Money—it may be tempting to invite as many people as you can fit during the holidays. But keeping a smaller guest list can help you save money when hosting.
  • Keep the time of day in mind—dinners tend to cost more than brunches, breakfasts, and lunches. And so, by planning accordingly, you could save a lot of money for your holiday party.

Make New Holiday Traditions that are Lowkey— introduce your family members and friends to simple and cheap ways to have fun. Watch your favorite movies at home, play outside in the snow, take a walk to see decorations, or just be together.  

If you are a guest who is attending a holiday party, here are some tips to save: 

  • Purchasing clothing for social gatherings is another expensive part of the holidays. So before you purchase brand new holiday clothes, check your closet! 
  • Make a gift for the host instead of buying something. 
  • If you are on a tight budget, kindly decline invites to parties that come with a high price tag.

Skip Holiday Travel and Opt-in for a Video Call

Holiday travel expenses can take the most prominent hit to a holiday budget. Flights, hotels, and that extra luggage of holiday cheer in the form of gifts will limit your total spending limit by a lot. And so, rather than spending your entire budget towards traveling, ask to be present virtually instead. That way, you can still see everyone without breaking the bank! 

If you want to travel, you may want to talk to your friends and family about celebrating in the following months after the holiday season. Flights, hotel stays, transportation all are more expensive in those few months of the holiday season. By waiting a month or so to travel, you could save a ton of money. 

Stick To These Holiday Budgeting Tips To Cut Down on Unnecessary Holiday Spending

Many Americans spend money that they don’t have during the holiday season. They may use credit cards, payday loans, or go into their savings account for holiday expenses. Although this may mean getting the cash needed, unfortunately, it can also mean starting the new year off with debt. 

If you want a brighter start to a new year, establishing a Budget during the holidays will help! Set a limit to your gifts, have a comprehensive shopping list, get creative, and never go beyond your means. The holiday season is about connecting, not spending! 

And if you need a little extra spending money for the holiday season, consider a safer and more affordable online personal installment loan.

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