How to budget for holiday shopping

November 1, 2019

Is it possible to keep a budget and still have a happy holiday season? Absolutely yes, and you will even have money to spare. The key is to set a realistic budget and stick to it. This will allow you to plan some later purchases. 

If extravagant gifts have been your usual experience, think of a tight budget as an opportunity to create new holiday traditions. Look for ways to celebrate without shopping.


Get Creative

Develop your creative side for the holidays. Do you bake fantastic cakes? Do you paint? Sew? Often homemade gifts are even more appreciated and less expensive than purchased ones. Think about what people really need. Make a coupon or promise on a beautiful card that provides a night of babysitting for stressed parents or a day's work in an elderly neighbor's backyard. These are caring offers that can bring a sincere smile to someone's face. You may not be able to knit a sweater or paint a portrait, but you can still create a sincere, homemade gift.


Ask your loved ones to create wish lists, so you know what they want. Many online stores make this feature available at no additional cost. Be honest with your relatives and friends. If things are really tight, make a deal with them not to buy each other gifts as this can make things awkward with them.


Helpful Tips

●         Don't use your credit card. By keeping a cash-only policy, you avoid overspending.

●         Take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales as they can save you a lot of money.

●         Shopping online can save you time and money. Don't forget to look for free shipping codes and allow plenty of time for your gifts to arrive.

●         Add small extra gifts to your shopping list. These can be generic gifts (candles, chocolate, etc.) in case you forget to buy one for somebody. It will be easier than trying to find something last minute.

●         Find a part-time holiday gig to earn some extra money to cover your holiday expenses. This would be a great solution if you forgot to budget it earlier in the year.


Planning for the year ahead

Start saving in January to make shopping at the end of the year easier. If you put money aside each month to cover your holiday expenses, you won't stress so much about your holiday spending when the time comes. Check your previous year's budget to see how much you spent, then divide that amount by 12. This is how much you'd need to put aside each month to cover the year-end expenses.


If you couldn't plan this year, you can start fresh with a New Year's resolution to organize your finances in a well-structured spreadsheet. The better you manage your money, the better your quality of life will be.