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Your Financial Life

10 Holiday Budgeting Tips That’ll Help You Save

6 minute read time


Looking to stretch your dollars further this holiday season? Implement these holiday budgeting strategies to make the most of your finances.

Holiday spending can add up quickly. However, by creating a holiday budget, you can take control of your finances and turn unexpected expenses into intentional decisions this season. Here are ten ways to budget and save so you can enjoy the holidays without sacrificing your long-term financial goals.

10 Holiday Budgeting Tips

1. Create a holiday budget 

Begin by listing all the people you plan to buy gifts for and assign an estimated spending limit for each person. Keep the list of names in a spreadsheet or an app from year to year and use it to reset your budget as your start to plan for the next holiday season. Try to stick to the list as you shop but be prepared for some last-minute additions.

Tip: While setting a budget is a great first step, don’t stop there. Consider other categories of the season — dinners and drinks with family and out-of-town guests, travel, decorations and gift wrap.  

2. Prioritize saving throughout the entire year

Saving for the holidays shouldn’t start on Black Friday – you should start on January 1. Doing so puts you in a better position to pay for gifts at the time of purchase instead of making credit card payments well into the second quarter of the next year.

Set up a separate savings account just for holiday expenses and designate a set dollar amount to automatically come out of each paycheck or schedule an automatic transfer from your checking to savings account weekly or monthly. Watch it grow over the course of the year but don’t touch the funds. If you’re paid every other week, saving $5 dollars each pay period is another $130 towards your holiday budget. Start small and ramp up the amount each year if you’re able. It could be a huge stress reliever come December. 

3. Monitor your budget and track your holiday spending with a budgeting app

Start your holiday budget through an app like MyJFG. MyJFG is our enhanced digital banking solution is easy and intuitive to get you through the holidays without turning into Ebenezer Scrooge. Once enrolled, transfer some start-up money into your account, set up a regular transfer into the account and monitor your balance throughout the year.

When you’re ready to start spending, monitor your account activity and use Bill Pay to make payments. To keep track of your total holiday spending, check out the Budget tab within MyFinance Manager and create a “sub-budget” for holiday expenses. This will allow you to categorize gift-giving expenses and other miscellaneous costs that can add up during the season.

4. Use rewards points

When you begin shopping, consider using a rewards-based credit card to make your purchases. At the end of each shopping trip, whether in-store or online, add up your purchases and immediately make the payment to your credit card. If you want to supplement your spending power during the holidays, bank your rewards points on your credit card over the course of the year and use them for a statement credit for some of your holiday purchases.

5. Utilize online apps and tools to manage holiday wish lists and find deals

Online tools and apps can supplement your budgeting efforts and they can be fun, too. Visit the app store on your phone, search “holiday budget manager” and find a handful of free tools that could be game changers for your holiday shopping. Certain apps will allow you to import your recipient list from your phone’s contacts, set an overall budget and keep track of your spending along the way. You can also find links to wish lists you’ve previously saved with specific retailers, offer gift ideas and find the official countdown to Christmas and any other celebration you may want to add.

6. Shop early

You no longer need to wait for Black Friday to kick off holiday shopping and, believe it or not, shopping early may help you save money. Here’s why:

Navigating the maze of holiday shopping can be made easier with a few strategic moves, especially when it comes to finding the best deals. When shopping online, save the items in your wish list and monitor the price. Watch for items to go on sale or for the retailer to offer free shipping on your purchase. If you’re shopping in person and unsure if the price is a good deal, scan the UPC code into the Amazon app. If it’s offered at a better price online, shopping early will allow you time for shipping. By employing these simple tactics, you can make the most of your holiday shopping, ensuring you get great deals while avoiding last-minute stress. 

7. Shop small

Along with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, keep in mind the business owners in your own community. Small Business Saturday is a great opportunity to shop local and find something unique that may not be offered online to the masses. Supporting local businesses can boost the local economy and help build a stronger community bond.

8. Consider unconventional gift ideas

If you’re creative, put your talents to the test and make a gift. You can also offer your services to someone, such as babysitting. This way your friends or family can get a free night of babysitting and go out for dinner or a movie. For some, this type of present will beat anything you could buy on Amazon. If you’re getting together with friends or co-workers, suggest a white elephant theme. This way, you can skip the cost of buying a gift and instead part with something that’s been collecting dust on your shelf.

9. Make new holiday memories and traditions

Creating new traditions and experiences can be a great way to save money while building rich memories with family and friends. Some examples might include cutting and decorating a tree together or strolling through local neighborhoods and parks, admiring the lights. Or, better yet, give back to your community by doing some holiday volunteer work.

10. Remember the reason for the season

Volunteering any time of the year can be rewarding and even more so around the holidays. Instead of buying each other gifts, consider volunteering with your friends and family this holiday season. If you have the means, it could be as simple as picking a name from a giving tree at your place of work and spending $10 on a toy for a child in need. Or gather a group of loved ones to spend the day at your local soup kitchen. This tip keeps the true spirit of the season at the forefront of your holiday celebrations.

Are you ready to start budgeting for the holidays? Connect with an advisor to open a savings account, arrange an automatic transfer, sign up for MyJFG or go over your budget.