8 Ways To Budget And Save Money This Holiday Season

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by Enoch Omololu


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The holiday season is fast approaching and it brings with it lots of fun, shopping, travelling, parties, eating, gifting, and in general, a lot of holiday spending.

It is important to start budgeting and saving for the holidays early if you do not want to get overwhelmed with last-minute money stress and end up overspending.

Having a budget alone may not stop you from mixing up debt with all the holiday cheer. The stats show that about 77% of shoppers go over the budget they set for the holidays. To remain debt-free, you also need to stick to your budget.

Here are some holiday saving tips that will make for an enjoyable and debt-free holiday season this year:

1. Create a Holiday Budget

Write down your shopping list and ensure you include the cost of gifts, food, drinks, travel, decorations, greeting cards, postage stamps, charitable giving, etc. Calculate how much money you need to match your planned spending.

Take a look at how much you already have to spend on your holiday budget and how much extra you need to save up.

Is your budget achievable? Reasonable?  Do you need to cut out some “fluff” to make your budget realistic? Adjust your budget as required and take note of your spending limit.

After you have arrived at a number, it is advisable to add in some extra room for unplanned expenses that may come up.

A good budgeting app is YNAB.

2. Start Saving Early

Now that you have a budget, it is time to build up your holiday fund. If you start saving early, you can watch the money grow effortlessly and be available when you need it.

Be practical. The best time to start saving for the holidays is in January. However, if you have waited until now, there is still hope.

If your holiday spending budget is $1,200 and you have 90 days or roughly 3 months to reach it, it means you need to save an average of $100 per week or $400 per month to reach your goal.

Automated savings apps like KOHO (for Canadians) and Acorns (for U.S. folks) are great for setting money aside without overthinking it. These apps save/invest your spare change and can also help you reach specific savings goals.

To make your money go the distance, consider saving your holiday fund using a high-interest savings account like Tangerine and EQ Bank (Canadians) or Ally Bank and Synchrony Bank (U.S.).

Many of these online banks also offer automatic savings plans.

For additional savings tips, check out the:

3. Start Shopping Early

Do not wait until the last minute to start shopping for the best deals available and taking advantage of discounts.

Some of the major sales events to look out for include Black Friday and Cyber Monday. You can also find some other great deals before these Thanksgiving weekend sales.

Before making purchases, do some comparison shopping online to confirm the best available price. Stick to your shopping list and tick off items once they are purchased.

If you find it difficult to stay disciplined with using a credit card, consider paying for all gift items with cash.

If you are planning to travel, book your flights and accommodations early. As the holidays draw closer, flight and hotel costs can increase rapidly. Use an app like Hopper to track airfare and hotel prices.

You should also take advantage of free shipping. Some online retailers offer free shipping to entice shoppers during the holiday period.

4. Make Extra Money

In addition to savings, another way to reach your holiday spending goal without breaking the bank is to generate more income.

Consider taking on an additional job or side gig.

This may include proofreading, pet-sitting through Rover, selling used items, starting a blog, selling Christmas trees, becoming a mystery shopper, tutoring students online, taking online paid surveys, and more.

Speaking of paid online surveys, here are some of the best ones: Swagbucks, Survey Junkie, Pinecone Research, and Branded Surveys.

5. Save Money With DIY

Allowing the creative side of you to flourish can save you money during the holidays. Some of your friends and family will appreciate a well-thought-out homemade gift.

You can try out baked goods, handmade gift cards, soaps, jewellery, perfumes, candies, jams, to name a few. Save money by buying ingredients and/or arts and crafts in bulk.

6. Maximize Your Holiday Shopping Rewards

If you are using a credit card for your holiday shopping, ensure it is the one that offers good rewards.

Rewards, either cash back or points, add up and can save you as much as 5% on your spending. In addition to credit card rewards, there are several other online loyalty programs/apps that pay you every time you shop.

Some of the more popular ones include:

  • KOHO (Canada): Earn 0.50% to 2% cash back on all purchases plus a $20 welcome bonus.
  • Drop (Canada and U.S.): Earn cash back from several major brands. Get a $5 bonus.
  • Rakuten: Get up to 40% in cash back. Receive a $5-$30 sign-up bonus.
  • Caddle (Canada): Earn cash back on your grocery shopping, and for completing surveys and referring friends.

7. Sell Your Clutter

The time before Christmas is a good period to get rid of your unwanted stuff.

Clear out the clutter, free up space, and make some money. Consider selling items via your local classifieds, eBay, Craigslist, Kijiji (Canada), Etsy, Amazon, etc.

Do not carry the clutter and junk into the New Year. The money you raise from selling your clutter can go a long way in helping you reach your holiday fund target.

8. Keep It Simple

The holidays should be all about catching up with friends and family, taking some time out to reflect on the year and your future, and putting a smile on the face of others.

Don’t let last-minute shopping, gift-giving, and the need to impress sabotage your peace of mind.

If you are unable to meet your holiday spending fund target, don’t fret. Sometimes, giving people your undivided attention and time is more than enough.

In the midst of it all the festivities, don’t forget to lend a hand to those in dire need, the hungry, homeless, and those in need of comfort…

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Enoch Omololu

Enoch Omololu is a personal finance expert and a veterinarian. He has a master’s degree in Finance and Investment Management from the University of Aberdeen Business School (Scotland) and has completed several courses and certificates in finance, including the Canadian Securities Course. He also has an MSc. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Manitoba and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan. Enoch has a passion for helping others win with their personal finances and has been writing about money matters for over a decade. His writing has been featured or quoted in The Globe and Mail, Winnipeg Free Press, Wealthsimple, Financial Post, Toronto Star, Credit Canada, MSN Money, National Post, CIBC, and many other personal finance publications.

His top investment tools include Wealthsimple and Questrade. He earns cash back on purchases using KOHO, monitors his credit score for free using Borrowell, and earns interest on savings through EQ Bank.

13 thoughts on “8 Ways To Budget And Save Money This Holiday Season”

  1. We set aside an equal amount each month that covers our holiday spending. This makes budgeting and paying the bills a lot easier. Let’s face it, finding one less thing to stress about during the holidays is a great thing!

    • @Money Beagle: Thanks for stopping by! I like your strategy… it is easier to put little sums of money aside starting in January, and watch it grow over the course of the year.

  2. I’ve been planning to use our upcoming 3 paycheck month to finish off Christmas this year. But we also save for it everything month.

    • Great strategy, Stephen! Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I started making a holiday budget when I realized how much money I was spending on “stocking stuffers”, almost as much as the main gift! It adds up.
    I also keep my optimum points for Christmas time, like a year end bonus:) Can be applied towards extra groceries or the stocking stuffers:)

    • @Caroline: Great idea with the PC Optimum points…I will try and add this to our budgeting strategy next year.

  4. I agree with you that people should keep things simple. Sometimes, it is not that expensive gift that a person is looking forward to but your companionship.

    • Great points, George!

  5. Hi, Budgeting is actually the most crucial step for planning a holiday. We should keep in mind: What shall be the total cost of trip and how to manage it? Holiday budgets must be kept as much simple as possible. Planning to save early is a wonderful tip. Start saving small amounts each month.
    Too much spending on gifts might not seem to be a great idea. Spending quality time with family and friends is more important.

    • @Harry: We often underestimate how much importance people place on the time we spend with them when we give them our undivided attention!

  6. Well, I try to do all of these. But then the air conditioner breaks down. Then a wire hangs too low and melts on the muffler. And we didn’t know how much fall expenses would cost (much like spring expenses). And there are more activities planned through the kids’ school each year.

    Bottom line, most of these tips are great. In fact, each year we try to do most of them. But life keeps getting in the way!

    • @David – True!! Life happens and can blow apart our best laid plans.

  7. Bulk shopping can also do the trick..
    Very nice content..

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