8 Tips for Staying Within Budget through the Holidays

It’s common to go out on a spending spree for the holidays, only to find you’ve gone way over budget come the New Year.

Saving money and limiting to where and how you spend it doesn’t make those holiday gifts any less meaningful.

Here, we have gathered up eight different tips and tricks you can try this holiday season that will help keep you from overspending!

1. Set your budget or spending limit.

The most important starting step to keeping within budget is having a budget. Take a look at your finances, and realistically lay out what you are capable of spending this year.

Try assigning a dollar limit to individuals or families, such as $100 per whole family or $25 per individual. And don’t be afraid of talking out your budget with family—they probably would like to save a bit of cash, too, so discuss setting a gift price limit or agreeing to only buy gifts for children in the family.

Whatever works for your dynamic!

2. Restrict gifts to quality, not quantity.

A good rule to follow is thinking about gifts in this way: does your family or friend NEED it, WANT it, WEAR it, READ it, or EAT it?

If not, it may not be the best choice of gift for them. See if you can realistically imagine the person using the gift more than once. Think about the gifts you’ve received that you’ve loved. It probably wasn’t because they were expensive, but because they were thoughtful.

Invest time in planning a meaningful purchase, rather than using the price tag to demonstrate your love. If it’s a trinket that’s going to collect dust on top of the fireplace, maybe don’t buy that thing. 

Sign up for Homebuyer Education and learn how to budget for homeownership!

3. Shop with a PLAN.

Don’t leave to go holiday shopping without some idea of what you are going to purchase.

Lists can be very helpful for this. Brainstorm ideas for the family before you find yourself in the middle of a store, wondering where to start—and WRITE IT DOWN!

Black Friday and other sales are great for holiday gift shopping, and most places will have details of what’s on sale ahead of time, so you can plan out what you’re aiming to get.

Plan ahead of time, and don’t buy something just because it is on sale. Something on sale for $79.99 down from $89.99 is still $79.99 for something you might not have otherwise purchased.

4. Consider buying used.

Some of our favorite things to buy second-hand:

5. Use cash.

Try shopping using cash instead of a credit card for any holiday shopping you do (besides online).

With cash in your hand, you know you have that money to spend. Don’t completely rely on a credit card, or else you may wind up overspending and breaking your budget!

Sign up for Homebuyer Education and learn how to budget for homeownership!

6. Coupons!

There is zero shame in using coupons for a good deal on gifts and décor for your holiday party.

Check out bargains on sites or apps like Groupon, RetailMeNot.com, and Coupons.com for deals that might be online as well.

Besides, no one will ever have to know you got that great present half off!

7. Create your own gifts.

A great option for gift giving is creating something yourself—and you don’t need to be too creative to do this!

You could definitely do a DIY project (check out Pinterest for some ideas), but other “homemade” options include baked goods, something out of your garden, or knitting/crocheting an item.

One great idea that works for adults or kids is creating a “gift certificate” for an activity or service that they can cash-in on later.

Possible coupon ideas:

  • “Good for one free driveway and walkway shoveling”
  • “Redeemable for an ice cream sundae at the restaurant of your choice” 
  • “Popcorn and a movie on me

The possibilities are quite literally endless – get creative!

8. Suggest a gift exchange.

If you want to limit gifts for family, but have a tradition of gift-giving within your circle of friends, try suggesting a gift exchange with a price cap.

Or, alternatively, throw a gift-wrapping party with a side of wine for a nice evening in. Gift exchanges aren’t bad ideas for adults in the family, either, especially if your extended family is particularly large.

9. Gift an experience.

Try giving out experiences as opposed to things. Science has shown that experiences make us happier than objects, so this is a really great option for a gift. Experiences we recommend:

  • A free or cheap show at the Paramount Theater
  • Ice skating at Giorgetti Athletic Arena
  • Sledding at The Rutland Country Club, Pine Hill Park, or Church of the Good Shepherd
  • Stargazing at the Chittenden Reservoir

10. Recycle.

Recycle gifts that you may have gotten in the past that you never used—they could be the perfect thing for somebody else (just make sure you’re not re-gifting in front of the person that gave it to you)!

You can also “recycle” gift bags and boxes that you might have received in past years.

Another cheaper option for wrapping gifts is creating your own wrapping paper—try newspaper, magazines, or parchment paper and decorate for a very original presentation.

Gift yourself a new budget this year.

We hope that you can take any or all of these tips and apply them to your own holiday shopping process this year. There is no better gift to yourself than saving and staying within budget; Future You will definitely be grateful for it!

To learn more about budgeting, sign-up for our Homebuyer Education course. It walks you through the homebuying process, from budgeting to credit repair to down payment assistance programs and everything in between.

After, you’ll be eligible for free, one-on-one financial coaching with NeighborWork’s financial coach. In those sessions, you can discuss your personal situation and create a budget and an action plan that will set you on course to achieve your financial goals.

Let us help you become a homeowner. Start by signing up for Homebuyer Education today.