christmas on a budget
Updated March 03, 2023

Christmas on a Budget: 10 Ways to Save Money This Holiday Season

Saving Money

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Christmas is a time for family and friends, but it’s also a time for shopping.

Americans spend more and more money on Christmas gifts and other holiday-related expenses every year, with analysts expecting an average of roughly $1,000 in spending for 2021.

With that being said, you don’t have to break the bank to have an unforgettable Christmas with people you care about. Here are 10 of the best ways to save money during the holidays without missing out on the traditions that are most important to you.

1. Use Shopkick

use shopkick

Shopkick is a cash-back application that makes it easy to earn rewards simply by spending money at physical and online stores.

Users can even earn cash back by scanning barcodes or simply walking into a participating store. Check out my Shopkick review to see how it works.

Whether you’re shopping for groceries, gifts, decorations, or something else, you’ll be able to earn rewards on each dollar spent with Shopkick.

2. Set a Holiday Budget

set a holiday budget

One of the easiest mistakes you can make around the holiday season is failing to set a clear budget in advance.

Without a financial plan, it’s easy to get lured in by all the discounts and promotions that stores and ecommerce brands run from Black Friday through Christmas.

To avoid that issue, set a spending limit in advance for gifts. Put together an idea of which people you want to get gifts for and estimate how much you’re comfortable spending on each one.

You can always make slight revisions later, but that kind of plan will go a long way toward keeping your holiday spending under control.

3. Check Price Histories

check price histories

Retailers love to advertise eye-popping discounts, but just because you see a certain percent off doesn’t mean that you’re actually saving money.

In fact, some “promotional” prices are “marked down” from a sticker price that doesn’t actually exist just to convince buyers that they’re getting a great deal.

Fortunately, monitoring price histories while online shopping is easier than ever before.

For example, Camelcamelcamel automatically tracks prices on Amazon, and stores a comprehensive price history for each item.

Looking at a product’s price history will make it easy to tell which discounts are worthwhile and which ones are just a cheap marketing ploy.

4. Order Early

order early

It’s easy to fall behind on holiday shopping, but you don’t want to end up paying extra to have items delivered before Christmas.

For 2021, the USPS advises that shipments should be going out as early as December 15th (Retail Ground) or up to December 23rd (Priority Express) for expected delivery before Christmas Day on December 25th.

With that in mind, orders placed after December 15th will likely be significantly more expensive when you consider the cost of expedited shipping.

Placing your orders early will enable you to avoid those extra shipping charges.

Keep in mind that those USPS deadlines represent the date an item is shipped—not the date of the actual purchase.

You’ll need to factor in processing times when trying to place orders in time for a Christmas delivery.

5. Sell Anything You Don’t Need

sell unwanted items

Selling old gifts and other items you don’t need anymore will help you remove clutter while giving you some extra cash to spend during the holidays.

You’ll also be able to find an owner who will get more use out of the item than you do.

eBay, Facebook Marketplace, and other digital platforms make it easy to connect with buyers and either ship items or arrange a local exchange.

You can add the cash to your existing Christmas budget or put it in a savings or investment account to start earning interest towards future years.

6. Split Gifts with Friends and Family

split gifts with friends family

Buying an individual gift for each person sometimes makes sense, but you may also want to go in on larger gifts with friends or family members.

For example, you might get one big family gift for your grandparents and split the cost with your siblings and cousins.

Getting one big gift gives you the chance to look for something unusual that the recipient won’t be expecting.

In most cases, they’ll appreciate one big thing more than a bunch of smaller gifts that they may not end up using.

7. Give Homemade Gifts

homemade gifts

Homemade gifts are a unique way to show your appreciation for someone, and they give you the chance to be more creative with your approach to holiday presents.

Making a gift yourself is generally much cheaper than buying one, so you could save a lot of money by giving homemade gifts instead of buying something for each friend and family member.

Check out these DIY gifts to get inspired with ideas for all different kinds of homemade presents including personalized coasters, mugs, wall art, cupcakes, and more.

8. Ask Guests to Bring Food and Drinks

ask guests to bring food and drinks

If you’re hosting a Christmas gathering at your place, food and drinks might end up being one of your biggest holiday expenses.

You can cut down on those costs by asking your friends and family members to pitch in with food and drinks as well as items like dishes, silverware, and kitchen tools that you might need to accommodate all of your guests.

With other people handling some of the cooking, you’ll be able to focus on a smaller number of dishes as well as preparing your home for the event.

If you’re going to someone else’s place for the holidays, make sure to ask them what you can do to make their life easier.

9. Check Tickets in Advance

check tickets early

Transportation is one of the main costs we deal with around the holidays.

Plane tickets typically get substantially more expensive around Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it’s impossible to predict when the best deals will be available.

If you wait until a few weeks before Christmas to book your tickets, there’s a good chance you’ll be stuck paying two or three times the usual price for a flight.

Monitoring prices for a few months before the holidays will give you a chance to finalize your purchase at the best possible time.

10. Go Shopping After the Holidays

go shopping after the holidays

Retailers make a big push for holiday items in November and December, but they’re always left with some extra inventory at the end of the holiday season.

The first few weeks of January are the perfect time for some proactive holiday shopping—as long as you have the space to store things until next Christmas.

Whether you’re looking for winter clothes, TVs, holiday decorations, gift bundles, or something else, don’t think that you missed your chance just because you didn’t buy them before the holidays.

Try Just a Few Tips to Halt Holiday Overspending

Costs can add up quickly when you’re buying gifts, decor, food, and other holiday items, but you’ll be surprised by how much you can save with these simple tips.

Try one or two of them this year, and you’ll be doing your 2023 budget a big favor.


Logan Allec, CPA

Logan is a practicing CPA and founder of Choice Tax Relief and Money Done Right. After spending nearly a decade in the corporate world helping big businesses save money, he launched his blog with the goal of helping everyday Americans earn, save, and invest more money. Learn more about Logan.

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