5 Tips to Prevent Your Holiday Spending from Breaking the Bank

The holidays are a time for reflection, creating memories with friends and family, and in many cases  —  overspending. In fact, in a recent Affirm survey, 70 percent of Americans say they overspend on holiday gifts, while 26 percent say they plan on spending less this year.

Looking for new ways to prevent your holiday spending from breaking the bank? Here are five tips to make this year more affordable.

1. Assess Your Gift-Giving List

If the size of your family and extended family has continued to expand over the years, your list of presents to purchase during the holiday season has likely grown, too —  and more gifts mean more money. Want to spend less this year? Here are a few ideas for cutting back your gift-giving list without feeling guilty:

  • Set a gift limit for immediate family members.
    • Implement the “four gift rule” — something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.
  • Set an age limit for which extended family members will receive gifts.
  • Consider setting up a gift exchange instead of buying presents for everyone.
    • Each person draws a name and then is only responsible for purchasing a present (up to a certain dollar amount) for the giftee whose name they drew.

Once you’ve settled on your gift list, the next step will be to set your budget.

2. Set Your Budget

The best way to avoid breaking the bank this holiday season is to set a budget up front and stick with it. When setting your budget, make sure you plan for all costs, including:

  • Budgeting per person
  • Packaging, shipping, and postage
  • Holiday decorations
  • Food and drinks

Consider creating a spreadsheet in which you can track your expenses. Indeed, staying mindful of your spending will help you keep track of the overall trajectory toward meeting or exceeding your budget limits.

3 . Connect with Personalized Holiday Cards

In recent years, extended families have likely missed out on a lot of time spent together due to travel restrictions. So, what better way to connect than by sending photo Christmas cards that include a recent family photo, customized greetings, and personalized text?

You can even save time by taking advantage of free recipient addressing services. Saved time equates to saved money, especially during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

4. Start an Inexpensive Holiday Tradition

Planning activities together, such as watching classic holiday movies, making sugar cookies to decorate, or hosting a family board game night, are fun, inexpensive ways to bond while keeping holiday expenses to a minimum. 

5. Plan a Potluck

If you’re lucky enough to gather for the holidays, ask family members to bring different dishes and have a potluck-style meal versus spending a fortune on an entire meal for many. Assign each guest a food category (e.g., veggies, dessert, meat, etc.) to make sure all the staples are covered and then eat buffet style. Perhaps your guests need some ideas and inspiration. If that’s the case, tell them to choose from a list of potluck recipe favorites to ensure there’s a wide variety of foods and flavors from which to choose.

Pull the Perfectly Planned Holiday Savings Together

The holiday season is a wonderful time of year to spend quality time with loved ones. If not properly planned out, however, overspending can leave you in a financial funk when January rolls around.

Therefore, planning your gift list and budget in advance is key. Furthermore, by saving time with personalized holiday cards, starting inexpensive holiday traditions, and hosting a potluck versus cooking a big dinner,  you’ll be sure to keep your holiday spending in check and start off the new year with fewer financial worries.

Plus, as the years pass and all those new gifts have been forgotten, it will be the time together and the memories made that remain a part of your family forever.



Alex is the co-author of 100 Greatest Plays, 100 Greatest Cricketers, 100 Greatest Films and 100 Greatest Moments. He has written for a wide variety of publications including The Observer, The Sunday Times, The Daily Mail, The Guardian and The Telegraph.

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