Celebrating the holidays on a budget

Tips for you!

Holidays can be very stressful, trying to give to those around you when you are on a tight budget.  But Christmas shopping doesn’t have to be a budget-buster. There are plenty of ways you can cut back on holiday expenses, shaving off a few dollars or even eliminating them entirely.

Make a (budget) list, and check it twice!

Christmas spending often goes overboard when shoppers fail to reconcile their budget with their shopping list. To avoid overspending, determine how much you can afford to spend on Christmas and then make a list of all your holiday obligations, including presents, travel, and decorations. Then, put a dollar amount to each item, overestimating slightly.

It will probably hurt to spend less this year, but consider this: consumers still haven’t repaid their credit card bills from last year’s holidays (according to CNBC). If you’re in the same boat, add up how much you’ve spent on credit card interest and stick to the budget this year.

Look for discount codes

There are plenty of sites that aggregate coupon codes so you can always snag the best deal.

Sign up for a store’s email list

Usually, you’ll get an extra 10%-20% off if you’re a new subscriber. Sometimes I’ll even create a new email address to get multiple discounts.

Use a cash back credit card

While taking out a credit card for the sole purpose of buying Christmas gifts isn’t the best idea, if you’re in the market for a new card, taking advantage of sign-up bonuses and great 5% cash back categories could be the smart thing to do.

Save on wrapping

I love wrapping Christmas gifts more than anything, but wrapping paper, bows, and ribbon add up quickly. I shop at the dollar store for all my wrapping needs, where you can get more than enough paper for just a few bucks.

When I was really living on a tight budget, I saved cartoons from the Sunday paper to wrap my gifts. Yes, your gifts won’t look as beautiful under the tree, but it’s better than spending $20 on something that will end up in the trash.

Find cheap gift ideas

A couple of years ago, I asked my friend Melissa what she’d put on her Christmas list. A recent homeowner, Melissa was practical and asked that her parents come down and help her with some house projects instead of buying a physical gift.

I remember thinking how grown-up she was, eschewing traditional gifts in favor of sweat equity. Now, I understand the genius behind her thinking.

If you have a special skill, such as woodworking or landscape design, give that as your present. The monetary value will be much higher than whatever you’d find at Macy’s, and it could be especially precious to the beneficiary. Plus, it won’t cost you anything except for your time.

Other cheap gift ideas include:

  • Baking mixes.
  • Homemade soaps.
  • Bath salts.
  • Anything edible (hello Christmas cookies).

I love to buy food and beverage-related gifts because they’re often less expensive, we know they’ll always get used, and they won’t add extra clutter.


A popular alternative is to do a gift exchange instead of buying each person a present. Draw names and set a price limit, such as $30. That’s enough to buy a substantial gift without ruining your holiday budget. This is perfect for big families, where gift-giving can get pricey once spouses and children come into the mix. Some families even decide to skip presents for adults and only buy gifts for the kids.

OR take the money you’d spend on gifts and treat everyone to dinner at your favorite restaurant, an evening at the movies, or an afternoon at an escape room (after COVID ends, obviously). The camaraderie you get from sharing an experience together will last longer than the thrill of opening a cashmere sweater.

The holiday season can be stressful because of gift giving, DON’T LET IT BE!  Holidays are meant to be special, peaceful time of the year when we reflect on the blessings in our lives and we celebrate the loved ones around us.  All it takes is a little creativity!

Interested? Read more: Cheap Gifts: 55 Inexpensive Christmas Gift Ideas Source: Syda Productions/Shutterstock.com OR visit: https://www.moneyunder30.com/christmas-on-a-budget