A Christmas budget can feel like a real drag on your holiday spirit. But, you know what? It doesn’t have to be. Think about it this way: when you budget, you’re being intentional. This makes your approach to shopping more meaningful and less stressful. Don’t think less of your generosity just because you’re on a budget. You can do Christmas on a budget and here’s how:
Set a budget with categories and tracking
Do not open a new line of credit
Make a master Christmas shopping list
Suggest a gift drawing rather than buying for everybody
Consider shopping used
Craft homemade gifts
Use social media ads to your advantage
Generate some extra cash
1. Set a budget with categories and tracking It may seem obvious, but decide on a specific dollar amount you can spend. Remember to include all holiday expenditures, for example:
Home décor items
Personal items (like that cute reindeer outfit for your little one)
Once you set up your cost categories, determine how you will track what you spend. Some ideas include:
The envelope system, which is where you put the cash for each category in its own envelope and use that cash to shop
Phone apps for budgeting
A digital or paper spreadsheet
Choose a method you know you can maintain. 2. Do not open a new line of credit Don’t do it. Opening a new credit card to cover your holiday costs only prolongs the financial stress. Instead, see what “credit” you may already have. No, not credit cards. By “credit” we mean store points you may have forgotten about, coupons you saved, or old gift cards. Don’t forget to check with your phone and utility companies. Some award on-time bill payments with points or rewards. You may be surprised!
3. Make a master Christmas shopping list A master list will help you identify the items you’re shopping for, not just the people. It will also help you determine what stores you need to watch for sales. Putting together your list should take more time than the actual shopping! Your master Christmas shopping list should include:
Names of all the people you’re gifting
Gift ideas for each person
If you’re not sure, ask them! It’s important to get a list of actual items.
The store(s) where you can buy the gifts for each person
Include several options. If you see a store on your list multiple times you should watch that store for sales.
The amount you plan to spend on each individual
How you will be giving them their gift. If you’re planning to mail their present, account for the shipping cost!
Any supplies you may need to send Christmas cards or ship gifts and where you can buy them
Ingredients for the food you plan to bake and where you can buy them
Decorations you may want for your home and the stores where you may purchase them
Revisit your list often. A simple checklist on your phone is a great way to keep your list accessible and organized. 4. Suggest a gift drawing rather than buying for everybody
Are you looking at your list and thinking, Even if I buy a candy cane for all these people I’ll be over budget? Then it’s time to refine your list.
Propose a ”Secret Santa” game where everybody buys one present and plays a game to swap gifts.
Have everybody draw a name. When you’re only buying for the person you draw, it helps you save money and get to know them better.
Do a combination. Does your family have lots of little ones? You could draw names for the kids and do a “Secret Santa” game for the adults.
Pro tip: Don’t forget to set a price limit for the drawing! This will avoid awkward gift imbalances and keep you on budget. 5. Consider shopping used Secondhand stores have so many gift options! Oftentimes, you can find items that don’t appear used for a fraction of the price! Not keen on shopping in the store? There are several ways to secondhand shop online, including:
Online thrift shops
Local garage sale groups on Facebook
Around the holidays, these stores and sites usually have an influx of items. This is because people are cleaning and going through old toys. All to your advantage! 6. Homemade Christmas gifts Homemade is a nice alternative to store-bought gifts and is usually easier on the budget. You can start your search online using websites like Pinterest. Find a project you are confident you can complete efficiently and within your budget. Review the instructions before you commit, just to be sure. 7. Use social media ads to your advantage There are four ways you can make online ads support your budget and even score deals!
Change your ad preferences in the settings of the social media platforms you use. You can opt to hide ads from stores you know you are likely to impulse buy from. Cut out the temptation!
Follow the stores you see recurring on your shopping list. Turn on all notifications for their pages. This will ensure you know about their sales.
Search for store hashtags! Sometimes companies collaborate with social media influencers to distribute discount codes. An influencer (a social media user with lots of followers) will feature a store or product in their post and include a discount code in their caption. Search for a store’s hashtag and read a few captions to see if there are any active discount codes.
If you’re not in a time crunch, this hack may score you an extra discount. When shopping online, load your cart with items, and then leave the site. This may prompt the website to send you ads via an email, Google, or social media that offer you a discount if you come back to finish your purchase!
8. Generate some extra cash If your budget still feels tight, you can try to generate some cash for your Christmas fund. Some easy ways to do this include:
Find things you don’t use anymore and sell them online!
Consider short-term, seasonal or freelance jobs.
Giving is all about the intentionality behind it. You’re planning, making a budget and sticking to it which are all admirable intentions. You’ve got this!