When you think of the holidays, what comes to mind? Does it conjure up images of shopping and wrapping gifts, bountiful feasts, or traveling? None of those things are cheap. It can be easy to go overboard on the shopping for gifts or food, and travel leads to an increase in cost, including eating out and the travel itself. In fact, per the National Retail Federation, the average American plans to spend about $800 in 2022 on holiday food, gifts, and decorations. But sticking to a budget can be done with a few key tips.
Determine Your Number
Analyze your budget and determine what number you want to spend for the holidays. Maybe it is $200, $300, $400. Determine what you can realistically spend on the holidays without going into debt. Start an excel sheet or Google sheet where you can write the amount at the top, and it will calculate the amount left after you enter each expenditure.
Consider gifts that are not physical things. Consider volunteering for a cause together with your friend or family. Perhaps you both enjoy caring for animals – schedule time together to volunteer at an SPCA or local animal shelter. Consider spending one-on-one time doing something outdoors – hiking or walking together. Or perhaps borrowing a movie from the library and scheduling a date. Handmade gifts using what you have at home make great gifts as well. Don’t discount your own talents. All of these things require no spending money.
Make a Budget, and Stick To It
If you know you only have X amount of money to spend on gifts or travel, then stick to it. That is it. Don’t max out a credit card or get another credit card to pay for the holiday. Just don’t do it. You have already chosen your maximum holiday spending number. Be realistic about what you can spend on food and gifts. Hopefully, by planning for alternative gifts, you may be able to stretch that budget a bit more.
This may sound silly, especially when you have limited time during the holiday season, but coupons and coupon codes for online shopping are abundant and can save you money. Before purchasing on Amazon or big box stores, do a quick search on your favorite web browser to look for other options for the same item. Don’t forget your grocery store app for coupons – these can usually be seamlessly linked to your rewards card. Utilize websites and applications like Rakuten, Ibotta, Checkout 51 to provide ways to save money on things you are purchasing anyway. You don’t have to be an extreme couponer. Just save on items you want.
You can stay on budget, but it can require vigilance, creativity, and sticking to the plan.
I know most of who are on my gift list. I start in January making or buying gifts. Usually by October I have Christmas all wrapped up. I even watch for special items for stocking stuffers. When I had little folk. I put money in an envelope to buy their special gifts closer to Christmas. Now my little folk are grandbabies. I make a very special quilt for each one and put a very special book with it. Mom and Dad can worry about those special items.