Holiday Budgeting Tips

12 Genius Holiday Budgeting Tips You Need to Try

  • Post author:Bob Haegele
  • Post last modified:November 25, 2023

The holidays are one of the best times of the year, but they can also be one of the most expensive. And things aren’t getting better: according to the National Retail Federation, holiday spending is expected to reach record levels in 2023, with a projection between $957.3 billion and $966.6 billion. If you’re one of the millions who expect to spend more this year, try these these holiday budgeting tips.

Key Takeaways

  • Set a holiday budget to avoid excess holiday spending.
  • Do your holiday shopping online and look for deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
  • Start your holiday saving and shopping early to avoid derailing your budget.

Tips for Holiday Budgeting

It can be tempting to spend too much during the holidays. For one, travel can be incredibly expensive. In addition, you might have an extended family and buy something for all of them. These budgeting tips can help you save money, even when you think you might spend a lot this year.

1. Create a Specific Holiday Budget

The first step is to determine your budget for the holidays. This might include things like gifts, food, holiday decor, and travel. When it comes to your holiday spending, it can be easy to just wing it. But you will be more likely to overspend if you don’t set holiday spending limits.

Whatever your approach, make sure you keep a holiday budget and stick to it. Remember, spreading holiday cheer doesn’t have to be expensive!

2. List Your Expenses for the Holiday Season

To help keep your holiday spending under control, your next step is to break your holiday expenses into categories. As mentioned, this can include things like gifts, food, and travel.

More than just identifying these holiday-related purchases, you should also know how much you will spend on each. Allocate a spending limit for each category so you don’t spend too much.

3. Avoid Impulse Buys

Impulse buys can be more likely during the holidays. After all, there’s no shortage of sales and temping displays this time of year. But remember that you’ve created a holiday budget, and it’s important to stick to it.

Even if things are on sale, these purchases can quickly add up. Hone in on your budget categories, and ensure you aren’t spending too much in any area.

4. Track Your Holiday Spending

Whether you’re shopping online or in-person, tracking your spending on holiday purchases doesn’t have to be complicated. You can use a simple budget spreadsheet or a budgeting app like Empower to monitor your spending for holiday shopping.

Again, the specific approach isn’t as important as making sure you stick to it. Whatever works for you is the right choice.

5. Start Saving Early

Holiday gifts can be expensive, despite your best efforts. But when you wait until the last minute, you can end up spending even more. Starting early can help ensure you have money when the holidays come around. It can also help you go into debt.

You can put a little extra money aside every week or month throughout the year for the holidays. If you’re having trouble saving, try a money-saving challenge. That way, you’ll have more savings in your account when you start to shop for the holidays.

6. Start Shopping Early

It can also help to start your holiday shopping early. Indeed, waiting until the last minute can be a costly mistake. Not only do average prices tend to increase during the holidays, but shipping costs can also spike during this time.

You will also give yourself more time to look for sales. Many web browsers like Microsoft Edge have shopping extensions built in, which have price alert features. When you find something you want to buy, you can create a price alert and wait for a low price before buying.

7. Look for Sales and Discounts on Holiday Gifts

The holiday season means holiday sales, which can be a great way to save on gifts. If you shop online, there are many sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. By taking advantage of these sales, you can end up saving a lot.

However, remember not to be tempted to spend on things that aren’t in your budget when these sales come around. If you go outside your budget, you could end up spending more. Again, it’s important to stick to your budget.

8. Try Comparison Shopping

Make sure to comparison shop when you buy gifts. Even if you find a great deal when gift buying, you may be able to find an even better deal elsewhere. This is easy to do when you shop online because you can easily compare multiple online stores.

This is another time browser shopping extensions can come in handy, as they might show you prices for multiple online stores. Look for the best price instead of buying your preferred retailer.

9. Propose Gift Exchanges

Having a gift exchange like a white elephant or Secret Santa at holiday parties is fun and can save you money. They also limit the number of gifts you need to buy, allowing you to keep to a realistic budget.

Of course, you might not be able to do this with every group, but you can propose them to family and friends, loved ones, or coworkers. This can help keep your shopping list smaller, saving you money overall.

10. Make DIY Gifts

Homemade gifts and decorations can be more meaningful than store-bought items. Plus, they’re likely to be much cheaper overall. The only downside with making your own gifts is that they likely take more time. You can limit these to close family members or perhaps in-laws, which can still help you save a lot.

11. Travel Smart

If you have to travel during the holiday, you can save money by booking flights, accommodations, and other travel expenses early for the best deal. Depending on the distance, you can also consider alternative transportation methods like taking the train to save money.

Also, consider using a credit card if yours includes a travel category for rewards. You can also use credit card rewards if you also have some. This can lead to big savings on your holiday travel.

12. Use Cash When Possible

Using cash may not be a very interesting way to pay, but it can help you save money on gifts and other holiday expenses. Paying with cash can make it easier to keep track of your holiday expenses and help prevent overspending.

Final Thoughts on Holiday Budgeting Tips

The first thing to do is set a budget, including how much you’ll spend on each type of item for the holidays. In addition, having enough holiday savings will help ensure you have enough money and don’t go over budget. You should also shop online, do comparison shopping and pay attention to sales. Making gifts or doing exchanges can help save money, too.

Whether you work from home or have a more traditional job, it’s always good to see your money go a little bit further. These tips can help you avoid overspending during the holidays so you can ring in the New Year with more savings than before.

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Hey there. My name is Bob Haegele and I'm a personal finance writer who has been freelancing since 2018. Since then, I've built a six-figure career as a freelance writer. My work has been featured in Business Insider, Forbes Advisor,, USA Today, and many other outlets. Interested in starting a blog of your own? Check out my post on starting a blog.

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