When asked what is stressful about the holidays, money is one of the immediate, emotional responses. So, why not some simple money saving tips for the holidays?

Because honestly, the time between Thanksgiving and New Years can be expensive.

And while we all know about the gifts, it’s usually the extras that get us. Food, decorations, self purchases, outings and events, and gift wrap all eat into the budget. Then we look at our bills in January and wonder how our spending spiraled so quickly.

In our home, the holiday expenses have gotten a little out of hand in recent years. So, it’s time to take a closer look at what’s truly important to us this holiday season.

Money Saving Tips for the Holidays

Check out 25 EASY ways to keep your spending in check, so that there’s no January hangover this year!

1. SET A REASONABLE BUDGET

Start with the most important! If you don’t have a budget for the holiday madness, you are doomed to spend more than you should.

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

Benjamin Franklin

Take stock of the gifts you need to buy and jot down a number for each person, as well as the total. Next, include a number for all of the extras that pop up during the month. You’ll need more money for food and events, and possibly for things like decorations.

Be realistic, give yourself a little wiggle room if you can, and make sure you’re accounting for everything.

2. USE CREDIT CARD REWARDS & OTHER PROGRAMS

money saving tips for the holidays, credit cards

Want to cut down on the holiday bill? Use those credit card rewards you’ve been saving up.

Then, check out Swagbucks and Ebates (now Ratuken) for a little bit of holiday change. I’ve used Swagbucks on and off for years for extra gift cards. And Ratuken is a NO BRAINER if you shop online. They give you cash back for making purchases you’d make anyway! (The links are referral links)

3. PAY CASH

If you know you’ll have a hard time sticking to that budget in #1, consider a cash system (in envelopes) for the holidays. Take enough cash out for everything, or just do it for all of the extras and events.

Once it’s gone, it’s gone, and it will be a lot easier to resist the holiday temptations.

4. SEND E-CARDS

Holiday cards can add up quickly. So, try sending e-cards this year to those you love. Not only does this save money, but you’ll be simplifying and saving quite a bit of time for yourself!

5. SHOP SALES – BUT BEWARE

Obviously there are some killer deals this time of year, so keep your eyes open and take advantage! Black Friday and Cyber Monday usually have some great things going on.

Yet, those sales also do a fantastic job of making us buy when we shouldn’t be buying. So refer to that budget, and only spend what you planned on!

6. SHOP EARLY

I’m a fan of shopping early when you can. Not only does it decrease the stress later, but you can find things cheaper when you aren’t rushed to “just buy something already. “

7. RE-GIFT

A lot of people have more stuff than they need or use. Do you have something new or in great condition that you could pass along to someone else?

My kids have lots of great toys that we ocassionally re-gift. And, sometimes I’ll pass along a book to a friend. It saves money and helps us declutter at the same time.

8. CUT DOWN ON GIFTS

money saving tips for the holidays, lots of gifts

Simplify those gifts. Gift exchanges help take the pressure off of giving EVERYONE presents. And, if you make them silly, the price of the item goes down significantly. Our White Elefant family gifts are $5 or less.

Furthermore, some parents simplify by purchasing a set number of gifts for their kids. The 4-5 Gift Rule and 8 Gift Rule help parents keep the gift-giving to a reasonable level.

9. CHECK OUT THE DOLLAR STORE

The Dollar Store has a lot of things like tape, gift wrap, decorations, paper supplies, and cards for super cheap. Be sure to go early to take advantage!

10. PREP FOOD IN ADVANCE

Unexpected food costs come when we’re busy and without a clear food plan. It’s usually around this time that takeout sounds pretty darn good.

So, be sure to make a meal plan during the holidays and plan ahead for special outings.

Related Post: 14 Things To Do In November To Banish Holiday Stress

11. CHOOSE MEANING OVER PRICE

As people get older, they generally care more about meaningful gifts than expensive ones. So consider a photo gift or other sentimental gift that shows them how much they mean to you.

Photo calendars and framed pictures are perfect options.

12. MAKE GIFTS

money saving tips for the holidays, homemade gift ideas

If you start early enough, you can make something for others! The recipient will appreciate how much thought you put into their gift, and you’ll be able to pass on the hefty bill.

Check out some posts HERE and HERE for LOTS of holiday gift ideas to get you started!

13. UTILIZE ONLINE COUPONS

If you use Ratuken (Ebates), they usually run through online coupons for you before you place your order. If not, check at Retailmenot.com to see if your retailer has any coupons available.

But, if you are paying for shipping with a major retailer over the holidays, you’re missing out on savings!

14. CHOOSE CHEAPER TRADITIONS

If you’ve tried other money saving tips for the holidays and still feel you have a hole in your budget, this can be the reason!

Family traditions don’t have to be expensive to be fun! Think about what you want to do as a family this year and brainstorm ways to make those activities cheaper.

Perhaps you can bring popcorn and hot cocoa to look at lights instead of getting takeout. Or go to a local theater play instead of a commercial one.

15. SKIP THE FANCY STUFF

You do not HAVE to be fancy during the holidays. There are many other ways to make the time special. So, instead of elegant decorations and fancy china, opt for comfort and coziness. It’s more about being together anyways!

Want to go simpler (and cheaper!) on your gift wrap? This article HERE shows how to do free and gorgeous gift wrap using just brown paper, twine, and natural elements. That way you can skip the fancy gift wrap too.

16. CHECK OUT THRIFT STORES

If you have the time, thrift stores have an abundance of hidden treasures. From decorations to gifts, you can find some great stuff for a fraction of the price.

17. GIVE YOUR TIME OR TALENTS

Some of the best gifts are not tangible! Offer babysitting services, home repair (if you’re handy), or help cleaning the house. Better yet make a coupon book for several great services.

18. CUT BACK ON SELF-GIFTING

Ugh. Busted. This one gets me every holiday season. That cute sweater is at a steep discount. Do I really need another sweater? Nope. But I probably will in a few months, right?

If you love taking advantage of discounts for yourself this time of year, by all means, do it! But add it into your budget so that you know how much self-gifting is really going on.

19. BUY IN BULK

Costco and Sam’s Club pay for themselves this time of year! So use those memberships. Buy paper supplies and whole foods in bulk. You can usually find some great inexpensive gifts at these places as well.

20. CUT BACK ON EXTRAS

money saving tips for the holidays

Who doesn’t love Starbucks? But darn it, those specialty holiday lattes add up. And so do all of the other little things we splurge on in December. Try to plan for those little extras. Keep them reasonable and a small part of your budget.

21. BUY DECOR AFTER THE HOLIDAYS

Always wait until after the holidays to pick up holiday d├ęcor and gift wrap on clearance. Most stores put items at a steep discount the day after the holiday. Target is a great place to do this!

22. TAKE A TRIP

Of all the money saving tips for the holidays, this one is the most fun.

When the kids are old enough, skip the gifts completely and splurge on an experience instead. It’s the perfect way to make your holiday memorable without the added stuff.

23. GO POTLUCK

Don’t be the sole provider of meals! Having everyone pitch in not only cuts down on the work but also the cost.

24. BUY DISCOUNTED GIFT CARDS

Giftcards.com offers gift cards at a discount. Use the cheaper gift cards to purchase your gifts for family and friends this holiday season.

25. STOP WHEN YOU’RE DONE

Finally, when you finish up your holiday shopping, quit looking at sales and ads. You’ll only end up buying more, so instead focus on the other meaningful parts of the holiday!

Something To Think About

Celebrate the magic of the holidays this year without breaking the bank. Let’s celebrate a more intentional holiday season, without the added stress of a huge bill later on.

What are your favorite money saving tips for the holidays?

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