Holiday Budget Tips

Posted on November 28, 2016 in Budgeting

12 Experts Share Tips for Staying On Budget During the Holidays

The holiday season is upon us, bringing lots of festive cheer—but also a long list of potentially budget-breaking expenses. We asked our favorite bloggers for their expert tips on navigating gift purchases, Black Friday sales and those unexpected incidentals, all while keeping your finances on track.

1. Write everything down

“To stay on budget and save money, I make a list of everyone I need to shop for, corresponding gift ideas, and how much I expect to spend. When the total is inevitably bigger than I’d like, I go back through each line item and see where I can cut back. I also keep track of promotions, coupons and credits on the same sheet – it can spark gift ideas which help save money.” – Kate, Boston on Budget 

2. Get a holiday side hustle

“The holiday season is ripe with opportunities to bring in some extra cash to offset the extra spending: hanging lights, putting up Christmas trees, selling decorations or baked goods. You can even sign up for Uber, and use your nights and weekends to drive folks around to all the parties.” – Phillip Taylor, PT Money

3. Give alternative gifts

“Consider celebrating the holiday season by offering your time instead of traditional gifts. You can offer a home-cooked meal or a night of babysitting.” – Aliyyah Camp, Five Cent Nickel

4. Save for the season

“I focus on saving money throughout the year. The holiday season is the perfect time to use some of those savings for the joy of my loved ones. Fortunately, our children are young enough that a $5 gift can be as much fun as a $25 one. The money we save now can be used when they are older.” – Lazy Man And Money

5. Make a budget and check it twice

“Take the holiday budget day-by-day. If you overspend, act like your budget is being reset the following day. If you’re like me, you’re bound to trip up sometimes, but this way, I can have as many 100% successful days as possible.” – Matt, Distilled Dollar

6. Buy gifts in the off-season

“By picking up things throughout the year, I’m able to buy gifts when they’re truly at rock bottom prices, rather than on sale for the holidays. I look for specific items and don’t get caught up browsing. This also prevents me from having to drop a huge amount of money in November and December.” – Brynne Conroy, Femme Frugality

7. Beware of Black Friday

“Don’t blow your entire budget on Black Friday. While there are plenty of good deals on Black Friday, there are plenty of bad ones, too. Some items are better to buy on Cyber Monday – like clothing and beauty products – and you may find bigger savings closer to Christmas as retailers cut prices to move merchandise before the holiday passes. Waiting for later-season sales also gives you more time to save up and avoid relying on high-interest credit cards. Lastly, take advantage of Free Shipping Friday on December 16th.” – Andrea Woroch

8. Stick with cash

“When shopping for specific items, only take the cash you’re willing to spend. Take this strategy a step further by leaving your debit and credit cards at home. You can’t spend what you don’t have!” – Adam Hagerman

9. Crunch your December numbers

“Before you even step foot in a mall, review your income and expenses for December and come up with a number you feel comfortable spending on gifts – a number that won’t put you in debt. Then, budget out a certain amount of money for each person on your holiday shopping list.” – Tiffany Aliche, The Budgetnista

10. Gift with intention

“The four-Gift Christmas concept is a powerful way to give intentional gifts. My daughter receives something she 1) wants, 2) needs, 3) wears and 4) reads. Last year, I knew I only had one shot at buying her something from the “want” category, so I didn’t waste any money on guess-work. I listened for clues every day until I finally hear what my daughter wanted most: a pair of craft scissors. You wouldn’t believe the joy a pair of $3 purple-handled scissors in a $1 craft bag can bring a little girl who loves art.” – Laura Harris, Everybody Loves Your Money

11. Focus on travel points

“Start earning points right now. If you don’t already have one, pick up a good rewards or points credit card. Put all of your holiday spending on the card, and start racking up points for a trip. Then, while you’re on the trip, put all your expenses on the new card to store up points for next year’s holiday season.” – Nick, Goats On The Road

12. Trim your transportation costs

“Evaluate how much you are spending on transportation, and if there are areas you can cut back. Try walking or taking public transit to work, or finding a carpool and splitting the costs. If you find yourself driving less, you can switch to pay-per-mile insurance to save even more money!” – Lauren Hartung, Metromile

BONUS TIP: Download the Dobot app and create a Holiday Savings Budget. Next time the holidays roll around, you’ll have painlessly saved enough for gifts, travel and the extra cheer that makes your holidays bright!

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