10 Ways to Maintain Your Budget (and Sanity!) This Holiday Season

How to stay on budget

The Holiday Season (Thanksgiving through the New Year) is a time of excitement, joy, laughter, and relaxation. It can also be a time of anxiety, stress, and frustration, particularly for those who are on a tight budget, those who tend to splurge and feel guilty later, or those who simply feel uncomfortable watching their checking/savings account dwindle below a certain amount.

While it is tempting to spend lots of money on gifts for friends and family, or bottles of pricey wine and champagne for holiday dinners, there is a way to enjoy the season without needing to check in to the poorhouse on Jan 2nd! Read on for 10 fabulous tips to help you hold on to the majority of your pocket change and peace of mind during the holiday season!

1. Create your budget early…and stick to it! A budget is truly personal, and only you know how much you can comfortably spend without feeling the pinch. For some, a holiday budget may be $200, for others $2000! No matter the amount, create your budget early in the season. If you select your target amount, say…$500, and divide it by 12, you’ll need to save about $42 a month to meet that goal. Much less overwhelming! I find that it works well to create 3 budgets: one for gifts; one for holiday parties (including food and outfit); and one for holiday decor! Stick to your allotted amount-no exceptions!

2. Subscribe to store and coupon websites. If you haven’t already, now is the time to sign up for emails from all of your favorite stores. During the holiday season, stores generally email a different promo code everyday, with offers in the 20%-40% off range. That’s a pretty good deal if you ask me! Also, most stores offer free shipping. Socialite Tip: a lot of people hate to sign up for store emails because they don’t want all the junk or surplus emails. An easy fix is to create a new email address just for all your coupon and promo offers!

3. Stick to one store. Some stores are a one-stop shop for everything, with clothing, housewares, home goods, toys for the kids, and appliances! Shopping for everything in one location can save you hundreds of dollars, especially when using one of those 40% coupons mentioned in #2!

4. Don’t go overboard. You don’t have to buy gifts for everyone! You may love your Coworker’s best friend’s dog, but the dog doesn’t need a pricey stainless steel dish! Make a list of the people nearest and dearest to your heart, and purchase gifts for them only. Stick to the list!

5. Keep it simple! This isn’t so much of a gift-giving tip, as it is a decor and holiday party tip. If you have friends who are fine with hors d’oeuvres, simply serve budget friendly finger foods! Lil’ Smokies brand cocktail wieners, catered chicken nugget trays, and domestic cheese trays are wallet friendly, and still crowd pleasing. Don’t stress out about serving caviar, or Ace of Spades if it’s not an affordable option! With regard to decor…you don’t need a tree in every room! Choose one area to be your holiday theme focal point, and try not to go over your allotted budget.

6. Take Advantage of holiday planning apps. Use apps like Santa’s Bag – Christmas Gift List by Clay Pot Software; The Christmas Gift List Lite by Denys Yevenko; and Gift It – Christmas List App by Switchback Media LLC to help you budget, plan, and check off items on your gift list.

7. Create new (cheaper) family traditions. If there is nothing in your pocket except the proverbial lint, and your family has always been the type to take exotic holiday vacations, or spend tons on gifts for the kids, it might be time to explore new activities that can turn into traditions. Riding around to see Christmas lights, having a gingerbread house competition, going caroling, and showing A Christmas Story on repeat are free or low cost activities that are fun for the entire family!

8. Save on travel. Choosing budget minded websites like CheapOair (check the link below for a great deal! 😉) or Travelocity can help with finding reasonably priced flights. Honestly, most airlines and hotels charge out the wazoo for holiday travel, so it’s best to plan ahead, book early, and take advantage of frequent flier miles and comped stays! If you’re really struggling financially, offer to host family and friends at your home, as opposed to traveling to see them.

9. Get what’s needed. Holidays are a magical time for children, and as parents, there is nothing we love more than seeing the rapt expression of joy on a child’s face when they open up their presents! However, small children (and even teens) do not require the latest iPhone, expensive headphones, huge TV’s, new game systems etc. If you’re able to purchase those things, that’s fine! But if money is tight, and your child could use a better winter coat as opposed to a MacBook, it makes much more fiscal sense to buy the coat! Try to stick with what your children need, and then sprinkle in a few (affordable) wants as well.

10. Give Back instead of Gifting. It’s really easy to get caught up in all of the excess that surrounds the holiday season. It seems as though everyone has endless amounts of money to spend, and it’s easy to become consumed with buying gifts, because we just want to make our loved ones happy. It’s important to remember that some gifts are simply free! Volunteer your time handing out blankets to the homeless, or working in a soup kitchen. Ring bells for the Salvation Army or visit nursing homes and spend time with the elderly. You can be a source of holiday cheer for someone, without spending a dime!


It’s all too easy to get caught up in the mindless consumerism of the holiday season. However, if you get a good plan in place and carefully stick to your budget, you won’t have to fear your bank statement when it’s all said and done! Sticking with these 10 sensible spending tips will free you up to focus on your family, friends, and loved ones without breaking the bank!

Do you have a holiday budget? How do you save money during the Christmas season? Leave me (and my readers) your best tips below!

*Thank you to CheapOair for sponsoring today’s post!*

See ya next time!

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47 thoughts on “10 Ways to Maintain Your Budget (and Sanity!) This Holiday Season

  1. You’re a clever clog! Such timely advice that I hope people will take on board. It is so easy to go overboard during this season. Thanks for your tips. Have a lovely season… and remember the reason.

  2. I’m the sort of person who could be labeled as a “Christmasgiftaholic:” I LOVE to buy gifts and see the expression of the ones who get it – and I also tend to overdo. Your list is amazing, and it is just what I needed today. Thank you (in the name of my bank account as well as in my own)!

  3. Oh my! I wish I had read this a few days earlier – it would have been so useful! I really need to learn to stick to a budget and also hunt the sales out in Jan!

    1. Hunting the sales in Jan is such a great suggestion! In year prior, I always spent all my money in December, and by the time the prices dropped in Jan, I was too broke to enjoy! LOL. This year, I’m holding out!

  4. These are really excellent tips! In the country I live there isn’t coupons like the one you mentioned, but there are offers and special discounts on certain items. Here, the trick for saving is exactly the opposite in the sense that you should visit different stores to actually make a difference to your budget. A couple of years ago a tv show reporter showed the receipts for shopping a Xmas dinner list in different stores. And the final amounts were super close at a few cents difference for all the stores. Because in one store the wine was a deal, but the meat was super expensive, the opposite in the other, and so on. So the trick is seeking for the deals for each store and starting early. The wine is something you can buy several weeks earlier, for example.
    For me the ONLY important thing is inviting and gifting the people that I love and who really love me, I will not be trying to impress them with expensive stuff and they will know the most important is spending a memorable moment together, not what’s in the plate.

    1. Shopping around at different stores is also helpful; I agree! A lot of stores here also use price matching, so that can really save money. Thanks for reading!

  5. It is so easy to overspend during the holiday season. These tips are especially useful for impulsive shoppers like me who are bad at managing their finances.

  6. This year, we kept it super simple. I made a list of everyone we wanted to get for. Then I added price limits to each person. That gave us the budget to stick to. I took a set amount out of my paycheck every week and put it into an envelope. That way we knew that was all we had to spend. And I shopped clearance and sales deals all year before Christmas. Most of the list was knocked out before we even got close to October.

  7. I love these tips! It’s always so challenging to stick to a budget this time of year, but if you prepare and set rules for yourself it’s much more manageable!

  8. I feel like I need all the tips I can get this year. I’ll definitely have to check out those apps because I still have gift buying to do but I find it so hard to stick to a budget.

  9. “The Holiday Season (Thanksgiving through the New Year) is a time of excitement, joy, laughter, and relaxation” your these words are so true. And then your tips on how to stay in budget. Impressive.

  10. This is a great list of tips! I agree on setting the budget in advance and sticking to it. I am more a girl of going around different store to make sure I got the best offer though ^^

  11. I haven’t done any christmas shopping yet. For once, my brother is in charge of my parents’ gifts. I am always pretty good at staying within budget but this will help nonetheless!

  12. This is a great post with fabulous ideas of how to stay on track with holiday spending…. We need to remember the true spirit of Christmas is not in gifts and go into debt to provide tangible items….

  13. The final tip is really to remember in any season, not only holiday season. It is so important to give back! And I loved the one on creating cheaper holiday traditions – we did that last year agreeing on some rules and budget for the presents, and the result was a more relaxed and cheaper holiday, where we actually appreciated the presents more, not less. 🙂

  14. Great tips. This season is surely a tempting time to spend too. Good thing you had posted thise advise, it would be a great guide and reminder for everyone.

  15. As a stay at home mom, I have to say these are some great tips. And your right, it’s so easy to get caught up in the consumerism of the season. But keeping it simple and sticking to a list really helps!

  16. These are some great tips! I always tend to overspend during the holidays due to gifts, food, and entertaining.

  17. I love your suggestions! I didn’t even realize that there was an app for keeping track of gifts, but I should have known… Thanks for sharing!

  18. Subscribing to a coupon website or sticking to a website is a great idea as with more choices and options, there will be a higher tendency to overspend and overbuy! Hope more people will give instead of gift this christmas like what you’ve said. 🙂

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