Staying Within Your Holiday Budget

Christmas piggy bank

If you’ve already planned out how you’ll afford this year’s gifts, decorations, plane tickets and sugarplums, congratulations—you’re ahead of the 58% of Americans who say they don’t make a holiday budget. But when it comes to staying on track, it can seem like the world is working against you with holiday deals and seasonal sales, says Charlie Shipman, a financial planner at Blue Keel Financial Planning in Weston, Connecticut. Here are his tips on sticking to your plan:

Double-check your figures

When reviewing your budget, make sure you’ve accounted for all holiday purchases, from centerpieces for dinners and garlands for parties to gifts for the office Secret Santa. “It might surprise you to see what you spend every year,” explains Shipman. “Non-gift items add up, and many people forget to factor them into their budgets.”

Set clear priorities

If you’ve set a spending limit, make sure you’re putting that money toward whatever brings you the most joy. “Take the time to really figure out what makes you happy,” advises Shipman. “Is it important to you that your children get lots of gifts? That’s fine, but maybe you and your spouse agree to spend less on gifts for each other.” It’s easier to stick to a budget if it reflects what you really want to be spending on.

Look for bargains all year

Eagle-eyed shoppers can pick up great seasonal decorations at tag and garage sales in the off-season, giving you more room to play with your holiday budget. “We picked up a nice $700 artificial tree at an estate sale in our town for $35,” says Shipman. “Now we don’t have to spend the usual $100 or so on a Christmas tree.”

Bring a friend along

Take a friend (or your spouse) to the mall for support. Tell them your budget and your shopping list so they can stop you from making impulse purchases—for yourself and others.

Start a holiday fund

Starting in January, “save a little bit every month and use this earmarked money for gift purchases and other holiday expenses,” suggests Shipman. (If you save just $75 per month from January to November, by December you’ll have plenty more than the $804 most Americans say they’ll spend on the holidays.) Saving over time will help you avoid a large cash outflow at the end of next year and the temptation to carry holiday debt on a credit card or take out a holiday loan. Designating savings specifically for holiday use also means you’re likely to save more, and less likely to cheat and use non-holiday fund money for holiday expenses—studies have shown that earmarking money helps people exert more self-control over their spending.

Author: Ted Hicks

Ted Hicks is a dad, husband & son that enjoys writing about the wonderful world of parenting, technology, product reviews, education and sports. There are very few topics that won't be addressed with contributions to You can expect a witty exchange on the #LNPshow. Be prepared for an open and honest conversation – because that’s what you’re going to receive. is a resource site for parents looking for interesting blogs on various topics and articles. We provide our thoughts and giveaways for baby gear, electronics, sporting events & apparel. Follow us at @RealTedHicks / @LateNightParent or feel free to e-mail me at [email protected] Check us out at you ready for the #LNPshow? YOU sure?

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  1. Thanks so much for sharing my piece on holiday budgeting with your readers, Ted! And remember, starting a holiday fund now helps to avoid feeling broke come December.

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    • Hi Charlie — Thanks so much for your comments…it was a great piece. Let’s connect so that we can get you on the Late Night Parents podcast.



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