Holiday Budgeting Tips for Beginners: More Joy, Less Cash

The holiday season is nearly around the corner, and with so many gift-giving ideas in mind, the feeling of satisfaction from selfless spending might not completely outweigh the lightness of your wallet in the aftermath of all these holiday sales.

This is why it is crucial to ensure a stable financial strategy during the holiday season so that the money guilt doesn’t overwhelm the joyous holiday season we spend with family and friends.

Set Your Holiday Budget

A budget for the holidays will first start with making a list of your expected holiday expenses. Figure out what the future brings to make the necessary adjustments now. This includes gifts, cards, wrapping paper, traveling expenses, gift exchanges, and charity donations.

After this, decide your spending limit and determine how much you have available to cover these expenses. Be sure to only determine the money that you have set aside for Christmas or extra money that you can find.

Divide this budget according to the amount of money you have saved and your different spending categories. Knowing how much you have to spend on each gift will help you narrow down ideas before you shop.

Make a shopping list for your holiday shopping. By now you should have an idea of your price range and what gifts may fall into it. If you plan ahead, you may still be able to plan for major sales.

Once you begin your holiday shopping, be sure to track each and every purchase to stay on top of your expenses.

Major Sale Dates


Things to buy:

  • TVs and electronics. Thanks to Black Friday sales and pre-Black Friday sales, which start early in the month, November is the month to buy TVs, smart home devices, tablets, computers, and smartwatches.

Important sales days:

  • Black Friday. Traditionally, Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, but it’s expanded into a practically month-long event that has consumed all of November.
  • Cyber Monday. On Nov. 29 this year, Cyber Monday offers online deals and typically replays many of the deals offered on Black Friday. It’s also known for clothing and travel deals.

Things to buy:

  • Toys and games. As Christmas approaches, retailers start discounting toys and games to avoid getting stuck with them after the holidays.

Important shopping days:

  • Super Saturday. The Saturday before Christmas and the days surrounding it are filled with last-minute deals.
  • New Year’s Eve. After-Christmas and New Year’s sales typically run from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1.

Cut Down on Costs

If you want to fully appreciate your holiday budget this year, stick to cutting down expenses set for food, dining, and entertainment. Apply these other inessential purchases to your budget.

Try Non-Cash Shopping

Check your rewards credit cards. You may have accumulated enough points throughout the year to buy a gift card. You may also shop with points on amazon or other retailers.

A cash-back app can earn additional value on everyday purchases. These apps let you add offers in-store or online on eligible purchases.

Just remember that by putting your gift expenses on a credit card, it may be easier to overspend.

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Online Shopping

If you’re planning on purchasing most of your gifts online, let apps and extensions help you get the best price. The Honey browser extension, for instance, can help you find the right price or coupons you can use when purchasing. Other apps offer cashback on purchases.

When purchasing online, don’t forget to keep track of the shipping times. Certain retailers may even have free shipping codes.

How to Save on Decorations and Gift Wrapping

You could save money on expensive Christmas decorations by trying out some simple DIY crafts using low-cost supplies from the dollar tree or other general stores.

Purchase some inexpensive general-purpose masking paper from home improvement stores to save money on gift wrapping. To give a holiday touch, try adding a branch of cedar or evergreen.

Plan Ahead for the Next Year

Now that you have the knowledge to budget for the holidays, think about how you will spend the next year. Track the spending you do this holiday season to help predict what it’ll be like for the next year.

Once you are aware of your expenses, find and build a strategy that works for you.

  • The 52-week Savings Challenge. One of the first challenges to be made that could save people money throughout the year. To start, simply decide how much you’d like to spend each week. Be sure that it is something manageable that you can easily keep up with week after week. If you were to save $5 a week, for instance, you’d have no issue with savings up to $260 at the end of the year. However, if you could manage to save $100 a week, you’d have $5,200 by the end of the year.
  • “Keep All the Change” Challenge. This challenge is as simple as it sounds. Simply keep track of your spending throughout the year and save every cent of change you get back. Do this for a year and you may be surprised at how much you’ve saved. Since it’s harder to keep track of loose change nowadays, another easy way you could approach this challenge is by using cashback credit cards and letting the points accumulate to the end of the year
  • Set Aside a Percentage of your Income. A common savings strategy is to use the 50/20/30 rule, in which you divide your paycheck into three categories. 50% goes to your essentials, 20% into your savings, and 30% for anything else. This way, you’ll have a well-balanced life throughout the year while coming out with more money at the end of the year.

Read more about budgeting for the new year in our Budgeting Article

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