A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.
Creating a holiday budget and using your creativity when it comes to gift giving can help you stay within your budget, avoid taking on holiday credit card debt, and build better personal relationships.
Here are ten budgeting tips that can help keep your Christmas spending under control:
- No. 1: Make a shopping list & check it twice
While gifts are the main factor in holiday spending, they’re not the only expense to think about. There're other factors such as a Christmas tree, decorations, food, travel, and any other socializing expenses.
And this is on top of regular expenses! Rent, utilities, and food should take priority, even during the holidays. It’s not worth overspending and falling behind on fixed expenses in exchange for Christmas gifts.
So, once you’ve made your gift list and written out every purchase you plan to make, treat your Christmas budget like a personal finance exercise:
- Create a specific gift budget
- Assign dollar amounts to each Christmas gift. Some examples are
- $50 per gift per immediate family member, and $20 per gift on extended family
- Don't want to feel so rigid with the budget? Assign a dollar range (e.g., $30-$50) for each expected expense in your total budget to have some flexibility
- No. 2: Avoid the last-minute holiday craze
After you’ve figured out your budget, pinpoint which stores carry the products you plan to buy and shop the holiday sales to help you save money.The sooner you buy your Christmas gifts and holiday paraphernalia, the better! Super Saturday or Panic Saturday is the last Saturday before Christmas, a major day of revenue for American retailers, marking the end of the shopping season which begins on Black Friday. Super Saturday targets last-minute shoppers.
Sticking to a budget during the holidays is already hard enough, but if you wait until the last minute to start shopping, you risk having to pay extra for expedited shipping and getting stuck with paying more for things just so you have a gift to give. Plan to allow for a little extra delivery time so you won't have to pay extra for faster shipping. Don't wait too long, the holidays will be here before we're ready!
- No. 3: Avoid expensive gift wrapping
Unwrapping Christmas presents is fun, but let's be honest - the gift wrap all ends up in the garbage, so don't go overboard with buying expensive papers. Get creative with what you already have.
Furoshiki wrapping is also a beautiful way to introduce reusable wrapping. It's a Japanese style of wrapping using cloth which is ecofriendly, unique and can be personalized for each recipient.
Chatelaine wrote a great tutorial on how to wrap your gifts in reusable fabric.
- No. 4: Implement holiday traditions
Ask your grandparents and relatives about the holiday traditions they grew up with. Repeat them or update them so they would work for your current lifestyle.
Suggesting Christmas spending limits, a white elephant gift exchange, or Secret Santa can be a way to introduce new holiday traditions and avoid making someone feel bad because they don’t have enough money for Christmas gifts this year.
- No. 5: Be a crafty bee
When it comes to homemade gifts, baked goods are king because who doesn't love them? You can really customize the treats based on the recipient's tastes also! Gluten-free? No problem. Hates chocolate? They're a monster, but you got them covered.
There are so many wonderful recipes online from YouTube, to recipe sites, to Pinterest! The biggest and best site for recipes imo is Christmas Baking Recipes (allrecipes.com).
If you'd like to avoid sugary treats for gifts, then there are tons of other items you can make. The Spruce has a list of 53 DIY Gifts that are sure to impress.
Want to give the gift of handmade but don't want to actually make anything? Visit some craft fairs and support small business while checking things off your list. One of the biggest and best craft fairs in Canada is definitely Got Craft market. Got Craft has got you covered in whichever way you want to shop since they offer both a virtual market and an in-person market.
The Got Craft Holiday Virtual Market is on now until Sunday, November 27th. Featuring 75 makers and small shops from across Canada, the market features a thoughtful selection of goods including clothing, candles, ceramics, art, food + drink, homewares, paper goods, jewelry, body care, and so much more.
The Got Craft Holiday (in-person) Market is on this weekend in Vancouver:
Saturday, November 19 and Sunday, November 20, 2022 10-5 pm
Croatian Cultural Centre, 3250 Commercial Drive – Vancouver Shop local at one of BC’s largest curated markets of makers, designers, and small shops. The market will feature 90 vendors along with a mini makers area of kidpreneuers aged 5-13 years old and food carts.
This can come in handy if you already have specific gifts in mind for your loved ones (or for yourself) but don't have time to manually patrol the product pages every day for price changes.
Reward stacking is when you combine several shopping rewards programs to maximize the discounts, points and cash back you receive on a purchase. If you haven't signed up for Rakuten yet, this is your sign to do so!
Rakuten Canada is Canada's biggest Cash Back shopping site built by Canadians, for Canadians. Shoppers are rewarded with discounts, exclusive deals and Cash Back at over 750 stores including Hudson's Bay, Walmart, Amazon, Indigo, Old Navy, Sephora and many more. With exclusive offers and access to the best deals and coupons, Rakuten Canada is the go-to place for Canadians to save money when they shop online.
Using a credit card with its own rewards program will maximize your return on stuff you're buying already. You're spending money, might as well get some cash back! If the site you're shopping on has a customer rewards program, sign up for that also! That's at least 3 different ways to claw back some money during the most expensive - yet wonderful - time of the year.
Setting up a sinking fund so it's not such a big hit when the holidays are finally here. What's a sinking fund, you ask? It's a "fund formed by periodically setting aside money for the gradual repayment of a debt or replacement of a wasting asset."
Basically, it means starting a savings account for the sole purpose of holiday expenses and putting regular contributions over the year. $5 here and $10 there can really add up over the course of a year! If you're able to get a high interest savings account, then that can help add even more into the account.
Shoppers eagerly await Black Friday and Cyber Monday each year to score the best deals of the season. Most retailers even do pre-Black Friday deals so starting early can pay off as long as you have your list ready to go. Which is why getting your list ready is the number one task on this list!
- No. 10: Stick to your plan
If you tend to go all out for holiday gifts, it can be hard to switch gears. You can get trapped in the mindset of always trying to one-up yourself and next thing you know, you've spent a dizzying amount of money and left wondering what the hell happened... consoling yourself with too many holiday treats and left wondering again what the hell happened? You want the post holidays to be fun also, and not wondering what the hell happened to your financial and physical health!
So when creating your holiday spending plan, think of what is truly important to you this holiday season. Focus on shared experiences to further bond with your loved ones instead of the perfect gift.
Remember... people may not remember what you say, or what you give them, but they always remember how you made them feel!