Christmas On A Budget: How To Save Money For Christmas – 23 Simple Ways

Christmas on a budget: How to save money for Christmas
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Christmas is just around the corner, and retail merchants are ready to take the money out of your pocket.

There is no doubt that Christmas is merchants’ favorite holiday to make the most profit.The sales season can quickly push you into the red.

Although Christmas is only for one day, the whole spending mood starts from October to early January.

But did you know you DON’T have to empty your wallet or borrow money to enjoy the festival season?

In this post, you will learn 23 simple ways to save money for Christmas and reduce your holiday spending – Christmas on a budget.

You CAN have a memorable Christmas with a bit of planning and preparation.

How to plan for a debt-free Christmas

What Is A Reasonable Christmas Budget?

It depends on your current financial status and money goals.

Let’s look at the holiday spending statistics for 2021 to see what other people will spend for this Christmas first.

Holiday sales for 2021 are expected to increase by 8.5-10% over 2020. (source)

According to NRF, consumers plan to spend $998 on average for holiday gifts and other items (2021).

Here is the breakdown of the estimated per-person planned holiday spending ($998) from NRF: 

  • $648: Gifts for family, friends, and co-workers
  • $231: Non-gift holiday items (like food and decorations)
  • $118: Other non-gift purchases for self or family

Before creating your Christmas budget, you can first think of all the Christmas-related expenses.

Then write down everything that you are going to pay for this Christmas.

Here are some ideas.

  • Gorgeous Christmas decorations
  • Nice gifts 
  • Fancy holiday meals 
  • Lovely Christmas cards
  • Fun holiday parties, events, and activities
  • Extra car rental for family reunions 
  • Travel-related costs (e.g., gas, flight tickets, and hotel rooms) during the festive season

This list goes on and on, depending on your desires. 

All these categories can drain your wallet, put you into debt and give you unnecessary financial stress if not careful.

Also read: Should I Pay Off Debt Or Save?

That’s why you need a solidChristmas budget so you can cross out the unnecessary expenses from your Christmas shopping list.

Now let’s go to our first tip.

How To Do Christmas On A Budget – 23 Simple Ways

1. Create A Budget For Santa And Stick To It

Impulse buys for Christmas shopping are more likely to give you piles of debts.

If you already have other debts, you certainly don’t need this holiday spending to give your more financial burden.

Once you get your shopping list ready, calculate the total amount and how much you would like to spend on each category.

Don’t forget to set a spending limit on the must-haves, and it’s ok to leave some room for one or two nice-to-haves when you are on a budget.

Knowing exactly how much you will spend for Christmas could help avoid overspending.

Related: Which Payment Type Is Best If You’re Trying To Stick To A Budget?

Creating a Christmas budget doesn’t have to be boring and complex. You can also invite your kids to join the process – a great time to teach them financial planning for Christmas.

Read on:

How To Make A Budget That Works For You

Why An Emergency Fund Should Be In Your Budget

Christmas Wedding: How To Throw An Affordable Wedding

How To Travel The World On A Low Budget During Holidays

2. Start Saving Early For A Happy Christmas

How to save money for this Christmas

Once you figure out the total amount, divide the number by 12.

That will be the proportion you want to put into your Christmas savings account each month starting from this December.

But first things first, you will need to open a separate savings account and set up an automatic transfer for your convenience. Cash envelopes will also do the job if that’s what you prefer.

Even if you start now, you still have more than five weeks to set aside some cash for the big day.

Say if you save $10 a day, you will have $350 for your holiday spending.

And if you take up some side hustles (which I will talk about later), you can easily save even more before Christmas.

If you haven’t started saving yet, don’t feel guilty. You can always prepare for the following year!

You will be way ahead of the game if starting NOW.

Keep reading:

The earlier you start saving for Christmas, the less financial stress you will have when the time comes.

Say you want to spend $1000 for the next Christmas; you only need to save around $83 per month for a year and about $2 a day.

The question is if you can spare $2 a day to your Christmas savings account.

Sure you CAN if you want a stress-free holiday.

You might want to check out how I have saved over $10,000 after quitting buying those things here (#16 is a must-try).

You will be amazed by how much you CAN save by just stopping buying some of the items.

Also read: How To Curb Your Spending On Things You Don’t Need

โœจ Pro Tip: It is never too early to start saving for Santa!๐ŸŽ…๐Ÿป

3. Only Pay For What You Can Afford

I personally don’t enjoy paying for stuff I can’t afford because I get nervous and anxious when I can’t pay it off.

Ask yourself, do you want to be broke after having a one-day (happy) Christmas?

On top of that, holiday spending doesn’t necessarily guarantee a merry Christmas.

If you plan to use a credit card for your Christmas shopping, be very careful and only spend if you can pay it back on time. Otherwise, the high interests could make your next year miserable.

Further reading: How To Afford Christmas When You Are Completely Broke 

4. Do Your Christmas Shopping Alone

Are you easily influenced by people you go shopping with during the holiday season? 

When they buy more, you are more inclined to overspend like crazy ๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›. 

If so, you will save big bucks doing your Christmas shopping alone. 

Or do your shopping online to avoid the potential peer influence. 

๐Ÿ‘‰ Feel free to pin it on your favorite Pinterest board so you can come back to learn how to spend less and save more for a happy Christmas.

5. Shop For Christmas Gifts All Year Long 

Shopping all year long is one of the best ways to do Christmas shopping on a budget.

Gifts and other Christmas-related items are much more expensive than usual during the holiday season.

So it’s wise to do gift-shopping all year round ๐Ÿ‘€ and snap them up when on sale

Perhaps grab the LEGOยฎ star wars advent calendar for your young son at 50% in July. 

Or pick up the Peppa Pig RV Playset for your kids at the end-of-sale bargains (January sales) (with a 75% discount).Heavy discounts usually hit after Christmas till January.

Don’t forget to deduct the money you have already spent on the gifts from your Christmas savings account.

Related articles about affordable gift ideas for this Christmas:

Bath Bombs With Surprise Money Inside ($2-$2,500)

Best Money Puzzle Boxes (Perfect Secret Boxes For Cash Or Gift Cards)

Cool Piggy Bank Ideas For Adults

Unique Unicorn Gifts For Unicorn Lovers

Starbucks Gifts For Starbucks Lovers

Best Money Tree Gifts (Plants, Gift Holders, And More) For Christmas

Special Christmas Gifts – Piggy Banks For Children (Fun, Cool, Unique, DIYโ€ฆ)

6. Trim Your Gift-Giving List

If you are on a tight budget and want to save more, why not talk to your family about cutting back on gift-giving.

Maybe they have the same thought as yours, considering the current family financial status and long-term money goals.

7. Keep Your Receipts

Some stores don’t require receipts when requesting a refund or an exchange as long as you have proof of purchase (e.g., bank statement).

However, other stores’ returns policies might request you to have a receipt.

Keeping all your receipts not only helps you keep track of every business transaction, but also you can use it to return faulty products or unwanted items in a limited timeframe.

If possible, you can also ask for electronic receipts as they are easy to store.

If you are unsure about the store’s return policies, don’t forget to check with the store upon purchase, especially for big purchases.

8. Christmas On A Budget – Track Your Spending

When you collect all your receipts, it is easier to track your spending and stick to your budget.

If there is not much left in your Christmas shopping account, stop spending. Period.

Your future self will thank you for being rational and sensible.

9. Avoid Wasted Christmas Presents

Unwanted Christmas gifts are not the money well-spent.

Sometimes, you could spend lots of money on gifts, but the receivers don’t appreciate them, and you probably wouldn’t know. Then the presents end up in the trash.

Would it be so much easier to ask them what gifts they would like for this Christmas?

So you don’t have to scratch your head for awesome gift ideas and end up buying something unwanted.

Besides, their desired gifts might be even cheaper than the ones you intend to purchase.

When you give what people love, everybody is happy.

How To Do Christmas Shopping On A Budget

10. Do Christmas Shopping Online In Advance

Do Christmas shopping online early to save money
Do Christmas shopping online early to save more

There are many benefits of doing your holiday shopping early online.

Unlike going to the malls, you DON’T have to 

  • pay for extra gas fees,
  • get caught in traffic jams,
  • have difficulty finding a parking spot,
  • be tempted by well-displayed items in the stores and overspend,
  • get annoyed by pushy salespeople,
  • stand in the line for hours in the overcrowded malls.

On the contrary, you can choose merchants who provide free shipping and wrapping services online (without a minimum order) to save more. 

Plus, price comparisons could be made within a few clicks. No trouble, no hassle. Even better, some shopping chrome extensions could help you get the best deal and cashback.

Note that some stores might have different promotions online and in-store. If you have more time, check the prices online and offline.

Finally, buying Christmas-related items ahead of schedule could avoid the unexpected delay in shipment and hefty fees for the last-minute order.

Delivery is often unexpected, and shipping charges are more expensive when the holiday gets closer.

Remember to sign up for the online stores’ email lists; you usually get more discounts (an extra 10% to 20% or coupons) as a new member.

In a word, online shopping is an excellent option if you want to save time, money and have a stress-free Christmas holiday.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

11. Plan Ahead If Going To Malls

If you are not a big fan of online shopping, going to malls for your holiday shopping is also an option.

Here are the things I have learned from years of shopping in malls.

  1. Have a shopping list on your phone.
  1. Decide the number of malls and stores you want to go to.
  1. Map out the most efficient road (such as commuting mode) to save time and money.
  1. Think about which days you are going shopping. Check out promotional sales online for those days first and choose a time that is not crowded.
  1. Do price matching to get a better price if possible. You can ask the staff in the store about this. 
  1. Don’t forget to use cashback or coupon apps when checking out at the counter. 
  1. Sign up for store membership for more discounts if possible.
  1. Keep your receipts and know the return policies just in case. 

When you enter the malls, stick to your shopping list no matter what. Remind yourself of not getting side-tracked by all the beautiful displays.

12. Join Amazon Prime To Save More

Did you know nine in ten customers in the USA used Amazon during the holiday season in 2020 and 2021 (source)?

If you are one of them, you can sign up for Amazon Prime to save more.

There are tons of great deals on Amazon, especially during holiday seasons.

Sign up for a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime today to save big bucks now!

13. Join Cashback Programs To Save Big Bucks ForChristmas Shopping

Cashback programs could pay you back a percentage of what you have spent online.

It’s usually FREE to join and easy to use.

This money-saving tip is perfect for Christmas-related shopping when on a small budget.

14. Pay In Cash

Physiologically speaking, using up the physical cash will somehow stop you from spending more.

Ouch, your heart might be bleeding when seeing thousands of dollars vanishing within a few minutes of shopping.

If you are not shopping online, try to use cash once in a while for your holiday spending.

Once the money is gone, you stop spending.

15. Make Presents For This Christmas

Christmas is not just a shopping season; it’s also a time for creativity and fun.

You could spend much less $$$ by making gifts for your loved ones.

You can pick up the gift bags, ribbons, bows, and colorful wrapping paper for your DIY gifts at the Dollar stores without ruining your holiday budget.

Homemade cookies, paintings, jewelry, and Christmas craft items could be great gift ideas if you are interested.

These gifts are more memorable, heartwarming, and inexpensive than the pricey stuff.

At the end of the day, it’s the thought that counts.

Need some inspiration and instructions for the DIY Christmas gifts? Go ahead and check out some awesome ideas on Pinterest.

16. Shop Secondhand

Don’t fancy the idea of secondhand gifts? You might change your mind after finding classic and high-quality secondhand items.

The pre-loved gifts could be a pleasure to receive, and it doesn’t have to look cheap as long as they are in good condition and it’s something your receivers love (which goes back to #9).

Have fun and explore.

You will be amazed by the fantastic deals on Christmas gifts (e.g., classic books, vintage accessories, and quality toys) in thrift stores, garage sales, or online marketplaces.

Secondhand presents are eco-friendly and wallet-friendly – a great alternative to buying expensive presents on a tight budget.

17. Don’t Send Gift Cards This Christmas Or Replace Them With Ecards

Although holiday cards are lovely to give and receive, I am not a huge fan.

These little costs could add up quickly to blow your holiday budget.

Drop this out of your shopping list isan easy way to spend less for thisChristmas when you live on a tight budget.

However, if you don’t want to skip sending cards this year, you can consider ecards, which are more budget-friendly for holiday spending.

18. Arrange Your Trips Early

If your Christmas gathering requires you to travel (short or long distance), remember to buy cheap tickets if possible. And limit the family trips to one each year if you often visit multiple ones.

Alternatively, renting a car is not a bad idea. But don’t forget to shop around to get the best price among the car rental companies.

If going home is not an option this year, you can have virtual meetings with your friends and family that you couldn’t visit this time. I know it is different, but it’s an option, and it’s budget-friendly.

19. Say No To โ€ฆ

You will probably be invited to many festival events and gift exchanges activities during the holidays.

Many times, we accept invitations because of social pressure or cultural cues.

But if you attend all of them, your wallet will be empty quickly.

Been there, done some of that.

It’s OK to say NO when you know the events will not add any value or bring joy to your life, especially when on a (low) budget.

Be nice but firm.

20. Give Group Gifts

If you are on a tight budget this year but still want to buy nice Christmas presents, gather a group to get more money.

It could be asking all your siblings to buy a lovely present for your parents. 

Or perhaps ask all your cousins to buy a big gift for your grandparents. 

By sharing the gift cost, you can give a decent present to your loved ones and take care of your budget. 

21. File Your Tax Return To Get Extra Cash For This Christmas

Have you filed your tax return yet?

If not, do it now to get a refund before December if possible. So you can have more budget for the big day.

22. Stay Away From All The Temptations

Once you have done your Christmas shopping, you can remove yourself from the stores’ email lists, avoid shopping malls for now, and stop clicking online shopping ads.

Out of sight, out of mind.

The easiest way to spend less and save more during the holiday season is to block all the temptations and focus on what’s important to you in life for this December.

23. Cancel Christmas Spending

Christmas has become more commercial over the years. And we often feel reluctant to buy expensive gifts to catch up with the holiday trends.

However, just because everyone around you (i.e., your friend Jessica or neighbor Mary) is spending mindlessly on Christmas gifts and celebrations, you DON’T have to be one of them.

AND It. Is. Okay.

If you live paycheck to paycheck and struggle with your finances, why not have a no-spending Christmas?

You can relax at home, watch your favorite shows, read unfinished books, chat with your family, and make money during holidays (which I will talk about more in the next point).

Most importantly, you don’t need to spend a dime on these activities for this Christmas.

Suppose the expensive traditions only bring you joy for one day but give you unnecessary financial burdens for the rest of the year; why bother doing that?

Trade 1 day happiness to 364 days financial mess is not economical and sensible.

It might be a bit extreme, but you get the idea.

Further reading: Best Frugal Living Tips To Save Serious Money

Earn More Money During The Holiday Season

If you have no money for this Christmas, working during this holiday season would be an option to boost your income.

Did you know many companies experience a shortage of seasonal workers in December or even early November? 

It would be a great time to earn extra cash for your holiday spending. 

If you are looking for ideas to make quick and easy bucks ๐Ÿ’ธ, you can join Survey Junkie for FREE here and get paid by taking surveys. They also offer FREE Amazon gift cards as you prefer.

In the meantime, you could start a side hustle.

Looking for some inspiration? Here you are.

Also read: How To Make $50 A Day Fast

The best thing is that you can work from home with all these side hustle opportunities, and they could become your long-term streams of income if done properly.

Final Thoughts On How To Save For Christmas

The core of Christmas is about spending quality time with your loved ones, sharing life experiences, and cherishing the little moments.

Caring, sharing, and experiencing don’t cost you much but could give you ultimate happiness.

When time passed, what you remembered about last Christmas would be those lasting memories.

The physical gifts are probably a tiny, tiny part of the holiday in your memory.

Now you know the secret ingredients to create a recipe for a happy Christmas on a budget.

It’s your turn to put them into practice and have a debt-free Christmas.

Have a happy and financially stress-free Christmas! ๐ŸŽ„ ๐ŸŽ‰

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How to do Christmas shopping on a budget
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