Beautifully wrapped holiday present in brown paper

15 Holiday Budgeting Tips

Updated November 3, 2020 . AmFam Team

Looking for ways to save on holiday spending? Discover our 15 tips on how to budget for the holidays so you can focus on friends & family rather than expenses.

The holiday season is a time for creating cherished memories with loved ones. But sometimes it can feel like a Black Friday mad dash to check out — and the result? A major drain on your holiday budget. Managing your holiday savings is the key to keeping holiday shopping fun. To help you keep your focus on fun, we've come up with 15 budget-friendly shopping tips to help you save money during the holidays.


1. Make a holiday budget

It may seem impossible, but you can budget holidays with a little planning — and it doesn’t have to be hard. Before you start shopping, it’s important to decide how much money you can spend and set expectations accordingly. That way you, and hopefully whomever is receiving your gifts, won’t be disappointed.

Holiday budgeting is one step toward controlling the desire to spend this season. The second step is sticking to the budget. Give yourself a little flexibility, so it’s still fun, but keep your limits in mind.

2. Plan and research Black Friday deals

Black Friday is typically when you can find the best shopping deals of the year. It’s a great time to stay within your holiday budget and cross names off your shopping list. To best leverage Black Friday deals while shopping on a budget, create a plan beforehand.

Most retailers release Black Friday ads well in advance of Black Friday. Use these ads to compare prices and determine where you can find the best deal. Also be sure to have lists for everyone you need to shop for in advance too.

3. Coordinate with others

If you’re able to recruit a family member, divide and conquer together. That way you’ll have a better chance at scoring online deals as soon as they go live. Having someone to help can also ensure you don’t go over your holiday budget and can check in on deals.

4. Don’t get carried away

It’s really easy to end up buying more than you anticipated, especially on Black Friday because of all the great deals. Resist the temptation, and only buy what you need for holiday gifts. There will be plenty of opportunities later to find great online deals for things you may not need.

5. Leverage Cyber Monday

Miss out on Black Friday deals? There’s always Cyber Monday. This is the Monday that follows Black Friday, and it’s all about online deals on sites like Amazon. It’s a great time to wrap up your holiday shopping or score some deals you may have missed on Black Friday.

6. Avoid credit cards

Swiping your plastic and forgetting about it is even easier than it sounds. And although it’s never a good idea to spend money you don’t have, it’s especially important to follow that rule around the holidays. Gift-giving costs add up fast and relying on your credit cards could put you in a sticky situation come January.

7. Skip regular entertainment expenses

Instead of your regular entertainment, consider choosing less expensive activities to help you save money for the holidays. Make this a time to stay in and try new recipes while watching classic films on TV.

8. Choose a thoughtful gift

An expensive gift is nice, but one that comes from the heart and “speaks” to the recipient is truly cherished. Resist the urge to buy last minute big items. Instead, shop ahead of time with intention.

9. Give a handmade present

Put your individual skills and talents to use and make as much as you can this season. From holiday decorations and gifts to delicious treats. Let your star shine bright and show others what you can do. Check out these DIY craft projects for inspiration.

10. Try a gift-giving game

If you have a large group, skip buying individual presents for everyone and try a present game like White Elephant or Secret Santa. Set a reasonable amount for everyone to spend and then pick a holiday game to play. Who knows, you may just create a new holiday tradition while saving big!

Want to learn more ways to save? Check out our easy tips to keep your budget on track.

11. Add your name to your shopping list

Too often we go shopping for others and wind up with goodies for ourselves. By putting your own name on the list, you are giving yourself a well-deserved present and resisting the urge to impulse buy.

12. Use coupons

When shopping online — always search for coupon codes. There are discounts everywhere during the holidays, but planning a shopping trip based around coupons takes a little effort. If you’re willing to invest the time, your wallet will reap the rewards.

13. Ask for a discount

Whether you’re shopping online or in a store— ask if there’s a discount or coupon. You’ll find that the checkers in stores frequently hold coupon codes at their station but don’t use them unless you ask. When buying online, use the chat feature to ask if they can give you a discount.

14. Try weekly ad and coupon apps

Research apps to find one that helps you find deals at the stores and online. Many of these apps can help you find online coupons right away. A few apps you may want to start checking out are: Flipp, Shopular, and ShopSavvy.

15. Go back and get the sale price

Many of the bigger retailers will honor sale prices if you bought the item at full price within a certain number of days from your purchase. Keep your receipts and watch for deals.

As an added tip, shop this year’s sales for next year. It never hurts to take advantage of those deep discounts that the stores offer immediately after the holidays. Not only will you save money, but you’ll relieve some of next year’s shopping stress. And that makes the holidays just a little more joyful!

Bundle and Save with American Family Insurance

Your financial well-being matters. Discover how American Family Insurance can help you take control of your finances and budgeting. Find tips on how to maximize your savings in our Money Matters resources section.

This article is for informational purposes only and based on information that is widely available. This information does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal or financial advice. You should contact a professional for advice specific to your situation.

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