5 Ways to Enjoy the Holidays While Sticking to Your Budget

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but also the most expensive. Here are 5 simple tips that can help you stick to your budget and enjoy your holiday season.


budget thanksgiving table

  1. Host Thanksgiving on Budget

    Hosts tend to feel pressured to entertain their guests with the most lavish Thanksgiving meal and harvest-themed décor. Truth is, you don’t need to break the bank to deliver.

    Thanksgiving is a potluck-style holiday at heart, so when your friends and family offer to bring something, say yes! They will take pride in their contribution and love the meal that much more.

    As you are planning out the perfect menu, prioritize your favorite dishes. It’s okay to pick and choose which sides will appear on your table. Narrowing down also helps to stick to your shopping list. Only buy ingredients for the dishes you are going to prepare—you’ll be thankful you planned ahead.

    track spending

  2. Track All Your Spending

    Whether you’re into excel spreadsheets, money management apps, or opening a designated holiday account with your local bank, track every purchase you make. Your budget is useless unless you actually keep track of where that money is going. Don’t spend more than you can or want to.

    christmas presents under the tree

  3. Set up a “Secret Santa” Gift Exchange

    This is a great option for any gathering size. You can use websites like elfster.com to set up a gift exchange and invite all your friends and family to join. Each member can accept, then they will be assigned one person to buy a gift for.

    The Secret Santa gift exchange can help relieve some stress and the financial burden of delivering gifts to each family member at Christmas.

    christmas sugar cookies

  4. Be Creative with Holiday Traditions

    We can all agree that traditions are what make the holidays so special, but they can also be a huge financial burden. If your holiday traditions include traveling, paying for a special attraction, or surprising your kids with extravagant gifts, you might find yourself going way over budget in the name of family.

    Traditions don’t have to be expensive to be memorable. In fact, you might find that your kids and grandchildren prefer the inexpensive stuff over the grand gestures. Stick to your budget by looking for cheap or even free holiday activities.

    Here are some favorites:

    • Touring neighborhood Christmas lights
    • Watching Christmas movies at home with hot chocolate
    • Caroling
    • Attending a high school production—like a play or choir performance
    • Sledding/building a snowman
    • Sugar cookie decorating
    • Building the perfect gingerbread house
    • Check out your local deals on Groupon or LivingSocial

  5. Know When to Stop

    When you’ve finished your list and checked it twice, it’s time to stop shopping. No more stops at the mall to “see what they have.” A lot of overspending happens when you are wandering through stores or online sites.

    If you know you’re shopping itch won’t go away, try to spread out your shopping as much as possible. You could also save stocking stuffer items for the last minute. By planning purchases and stopping when you’re done, you can save yourself from shocking credit card bills.


The holidays should be full of fun and joy, but don’t break your bank getting there. Take care of your finances and plan smartly. You’ll enjoy yourself more knowing that you are keeping within your budget, not living in fear of the credit card debt you signed up for.


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