Spending & Saving During the Holidays

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Let’s face it. Many of us have to allocate/carve/set aside whatever you want to call it a separate budget for the holidays. Between restaurants and gifts for friends, family, and even co-workers, by the end of December, we have eaten into January’s budget and then some! So here are some ways to help ease that pain.


Plan Ahead

Throughout the year, set aside some funds, as little as $5-$10 per month for the holiday season can add up to $55 – $110 by the time December rolls around. According to the National Retail Foundation, each person spends about $800 in the holiday season: NRF Link. By saving small increments of money throughout the year that is earmarked for the holidays, you can knock off gifts for at least a few people. Also, while you are saving throughout the year, stock up on gifts throughout the year. One way to achieve this is to buy right after the previous year’s holiday sales when seasons such as spring and summer are ending or using coupons you get in the mail.


Also buying items in bulk may help you save too (i.e. – buy one shirt at Express, get a second at 50% off). Another aspect of planning is to decide what you plan to purchase for your friends, family, and co-workers. This way you can budget each item if possible to help you set savings goals for the holidays. For example, if I want to get a tie for a co-worker, I can budget $10-$15. If I want to get a watch for my Dad, I can budget $50-$75 for a reasonably nice watch. At the same time, it is important to be flexible too because you can always find a great deal that falls under your budget. Although it may be a different item than you planned to get for someone, but that’s ok! Here’s an example of a budget you can use:


Name Possible Gift  Amount
Mom Bracelet  $                        45.00
Dad Watch  $                        55.00
Joe Socks  $                        10.00
Megan Scarf  $                        15.00
Steve Flip-Flops  $                        20.00
Karen Necklace  $                        25.00
Jessica Scarf  $                        15.00
Fred Gift Card  $                        10.00
Max Hat  $                        10.00
Joey Jacket  $                        40.00
Alisha Gloves  $                        25.00
Me! Gloves  $                        30.00
Total    $                     300.00
Funds Saved  $                     110.00
Funds (Needed)/Extra  $                   (190.00)


Set Rules With Friends And Family

You don’t want to get something for a friend that cost under $25 and then he/she gives you a gift you know is worth over $100. It’ll make you feel guilty and your friend may think you don’t care about them as much. So, in order to avoid this awkward situation, it is a good idea to text each other. Or your group of friends and set a couple of rules like max amount each person is allowed to spend; level the playing field. Also, you could drop hints of things you want too – no shame in that.


Tunnel Vision Can Be Good Thing

Before I was married, when I used to go shopping, I would already know what I want/need, where to buy it, and even where in the store it’s probably located.


Now, when we go shopping, there are times, we stumble across things and may buy them, but don’t necessarily need them. The problem with this, especially during the holidays, is that there is so much merchandise, so many sales, so many deals, that it can all get overwhelming and you may end up spending more or buying more in quantity. This is why it’s helpful to have the list I mention above so we as consumers can stay focused and get in and out and within budget. I’d also say that online shopping is a good way to achieve this focused approach.


Many store sites will allow you to filter pretty much exactly what you’re looking for (e.g., women’s gray gloves – you can filter by gender, color, price range, and brand usually). Of course, there are always two sides, because if you become too focused you may miss out on a great deal, but because it’s a gift you probably can’t brag about your shopping skills, lol. Happy Holidays from SMM!