7 Tips for Holiday Budgeting

By Jacqueline Saguin
Holiday Budgeting

To Scrooge or not to Scrooge? That is the question. The holidays are a season of giving, which also means it’s the season of spending. Buying the perfect gift for everyone can force you to spend more than you can afford, stripping the joy from giving. Santa may do it, but you don’t have to. Here’s how to survive and enjoy this holiday season with holiday budgeting:

1. Make a List, and Check It Twice.

Create a complete list of your expected holiday expenses, including gifts, cards, decorations, wrapping paper and donations.

2. Figure Out Your Holiday Budget.

Be sure to only use money set aside for holiday spending or use extra money in the budget. Do not plan to spend more than you have saved, with the intention to pay it off later. And beware of the credit card as much as possible.

Budget each occasion and spend accordingly. If you’re going to an office holiday party, you’ll know you have about $20 to spend and can look for gifts in that range. Ask your children for a wish list of about 10 items, cutting down to what they “can’t live without” versus what catches their eye.

3. Who’s “Naughty” or “Nice?”

Limit your shopping list to immediate family and a few close friends. Opt for personal and thoughtful gifts like a framed photo or a homemade gift. Bake cookies for all the people who didn’t make it on your original gift list.

Start a new tradition with big friend groups. It’s a struggled balance choosing both a perfect and affordable gift. That’s why gift exchanges like Secret Santa or White Elephant combine a fun party twist and an affordable holiday for everyone.

4. Shop Cyber Sales Early

Online shopping saves time and money as you comparison shop. And it looks like the new norm for this holiday season. Many online stores offer extra savings and free shipping over the Black Friday weekend and Cyber Monday.

However, there aren’t huge markdown differences between Black Friday or Cyber Monday promotions and regular holiday sales. Instead of focusing on these largely advertised events, look for deals every day.

Stores like Wal-Mart and Amazon Prime started early, featuring massive price drops on popular products. Look for free shipping codes and anticipate extra time for your gifts to arrive.

5. Deck the Halls with Dollar Deals

Fancy gift wrapping is only spared a glance before it’s ripped away by children. Take a trip to the dollar store! It’s a great place to load up on holiday wrapping supplies like bows and tape. (Bonus: You’ll also find stocking stuffers such as candy and toys). All those leftover gift boxes and unused gift tags scattered around on Christmas day? Find a storage bin to save wrapping supplies, so you can reuse it next year!

6. Dish Out Posh Potlucks

Rather than dining out, a homemade dinner is a more safe and intimate celebration! But don’t place the responsibility on yourself to whip up an elaborate holiday meal. Encourage guests to bring a dish to share. Everyone enjoys a variety of food and saves! Incorporate festive games to further entertain guests.

7. Staying In Is the New Going Out

Holiday traveling is tricky to navigate during this time. Adopt new memorable traditions like local Christmas performances or drive around and see neighborhood Christmas lights. The holiday season is all about quality time with family. Watch holiday movies and decorate cookies together! An expense doesn’t always equate to fun.

*Free Shipping Day is on December 14. A one-day event, with hundreds of stores offering free shipping and other special deals.

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