Best Christmas Budgeting and Spending Tips to Get Your Holiday Shopping Started Right

I know it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, but I also know many of you have already started Christmas shopping.  My wife and I started talking about our Christmas budget last week and we’ve already purchased a few gifts.  Hopefully, you have a Christmas budget to make sure your spending is under control and you don’t end up in credit card debt this year.  Here the best tips I found from personal finance bloggers.

Give Homemade Gifts

Rather than a gift card, I’d much rather receive a plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies. - Get Rich Slowly

Me too!  Homemade gifts are a nice touch and can be a little easier on the wallet too.  Acts 20:345 says “it is more blessed to give than receive.”  A homemade gift is thoughtful and can bring a lot of joy to the giver and recipient.

Create a Christmas Gift Budget

The singles best way to keep Christmas frugal is to create a gift list of what you want to buy and how much you can afford to purchase for each person on your list. This makes you accountable to your spending.  - Frugal Dad

We created a Christmas spending spreadsheet that sets a budget for all the spending we plan to do and works like the envelope system for budgeting.

Review Last Year’s Christmas Budget

Review last year’s budget to see where it can be improved. Decide on a total amount of money that is reasonable for you to spend this year and then break it down into categories.  - Personal Finance Journey

If you did a good job of tracking Christmas spending last year, review your history and see where you can make some improvements.  It’s easy to to get excited and overspend so see where you had problems last year.

Set Your Christmas Budget in Stone

ShoppingYou’ll probably be tempted to go over your budget when you’re out shopping. You’ll find the “perfect” gift for your spouse, be tempted to buy the hot gift for your kids, or something else that could cause you to go over your pre-set budget. Don’t give in to the temptation, and stick to what you had planned on spending beforehand. - Bible Money Matters

The reason why we go to the trouble of creating a spending budget is to make sure we have a plan.  Budgets don’t work if you’re not willing to follow them!

Create a Gift Exchange

It seems every year we have the best intentions of doing a gift exchange and every year, we decide not to. With Thanksgiving coming up, it’s the perfect time to get everyone to agree, put your names in a hat, and have everyone pick out someone’s name.  - Everything Finance

I love the idea of a gift exchange, especially when you have a large family.  Not only does it save money, it’s fun to set a limited budget and see which family members can come up with the most creative gifts!

Start Watching for Sale Items

If you don’t subscribe to the Sunday paper, you might want to pick one up over the next few months. Set aside 10 minutes every Sunday to glance through the ads and coupons. If you find an item on your list, snag it while it’s on sale.  - Wisebread

Now is the time to keep an eye on sales in the stores as well as on your favorite websites.  I think Amazon is a great place to shop too and monitoring some of your brand websites each week only takes a few minutes.

Obey the Seasonal Spending Commandments

These are a few easy rules to follow to make sure your holidays are happy and financially healthy:

  1. Never go into credit card debt for holiday spending.
  2. Never dip into your emergency fund for the sake of buying gifts or decorating your home.
  3. Never go into credit card debt for the holidays. Seriously. Ever.

These are great rules to keep in mind and the two primary mistakes people tend to make when Christmas shopping.  It’s never a good feeling to have used up your emergency savings or have credit card debt after the holidays.  I’ve heard Dave Ramsey refer to it as a Christmas hangover.

Make Hard Cuts To Your Christmas List

Do all of your aunts and cousins really need a Christmas gift from you this year? Would they understand if you told them that you are only giving gifts to your immediate family this year in order to save money and avoid adding to your debt this Christmas season? They will most likely understand your plight because we have all been struggling these past few years. - Money Q&A

If you’re still trying to figure out where to make those cuts, I suggest just be honest with people.  Most people will understand if you’re honest with them.  If they really get the true meaning of Christmas, this shouldn’t cause any ill feelings.  Instead, give a homemade gift as previously mentioned.

Final Thought

We all enjoy buying gifts for loved ones for Christmas, but remember we also have a responsibility to manage our money wisely and avoid debt.  Remember that giving has never been about spending money.  It’s about the heart.

What do you think of these Christmas budgeting and spending tips?

About Jason Price

Jason Price is a family man saved by grace, passionate about faithful financial stewardship (1 Cor 4:2 NIV), soccer and the Pacific sun.