41 Best Money-Saving Tips for the Holidays on a Budget

Finances Work-Life Balance

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If you’ve been asking yourself, “How can I spend less during the holidays?,” “How can I spend less money for Christmas?,” or even, “How can I do Christmas cheap?,” then you are in the right place! These money-saving tips for the holidays are sure to help you stay on budget this year!

Saving for Christmas can be a really big task. Especially if you’re already living paycheck to paycheck throughout the year.

You try your best to put a little money back from each check, but it seems nearly impossible. There is always some unexpected expense that comes up.

The fridge goes out, or the water heater quits heating, or maybe an illness brings some unwanted medical bills.

And before you know it, the holiday season is upon you, and you feel like all hope for a fulfilled and happy Christmas is lost.

The weight of the world sits on your shoulders as you try to figure out how you will be able to provide a merry Christmas for your family.

I’m here to tell you that all hope is not lost. I am going to share with you 41 ways to stretch your dollars and make the best of this holiday season!

Check out all of my holiday spending tips below.

Money-Saving Tips for the Holidays

If you are worried about spending too much during the holidays this year and want some awesome tips for spending and saving during the holidays, keep reading. This list is for you.

1. Create a Budget

No matter how big or small, everyone needs to set a budget for the holidays.

There are too many temptations out there this time off year.

Having a set budget will keep you on track and prevent overspending on unnecessary things. Leaving you with more money for the things that are important.

2. Make a List

After creating a Christmas budget, you should make a list of the people and/or parties you will buy for.

Brainstorm a couple different gift ideas for each person on your list.

Having a gift list will keep you focused on looking for specific things when you’re out shopping.

Which will help drown out the distractions from ALL THE PRETTY THINGS.

3. Check Your List Twice

Just like Santa, you too should check your list twice.

Do you really need to buy for everyone on your initial list? Maybe some of those names are there for fear of making someone feel left out.

While you’re trimming your tree, try trimming your list.

4. Set Spending Caps

So, you have your budget and a list of people and events you need to buy for.

Now you need to set spending limits for each person on your list.

Set a max amount you want to spend based on your total budget. Maybe you need to rethink a couple of those gift ideas at this point.

5. Don’t Shop Without Your List

This time of year it’s easy to walk into a store with the intention of buying one thing and come out with a basket full. This one tip will save you tons by itself.

Never go shopping without your list.

If you’re anything like me, once you leave home without your list, there is no telling what you will return with.

A couple throws, a wax warmer, some earrings and a beard trimmer. All of which you found on the end caps at your local Walmart.

Not to say there is anything wrong with those end cap sales. But come on, do you really have someone specific in mind to gift these to?

Don’t give in to the big sale signs. Go in prepared. List in hand.

6. Start Shopping Early

By getting a jump start on Christmas shopping, you can save and allocate your expenses more evenly. Spending a little at a time.

This way you don’t feel rushed into buying something just because the countdown to Christmas says, “Only 7 days ’til Christmas!”

7. Create More Affordable Holiday Traditions

This year instead of spending money on taking a family vacation during the holidays, try some new, more affordable, holiday traditions.

There are many fun things you can do with your kids that will create lasting memories, such as:

  • Take a ride and try to find homes with the most Christmas decorations
  • Bake homemade cookies and decorate them together
  • Read a different Christmas story every night in December
  • Make homemade holiday decorations together
  • Have a family holiday movie night once a week

8. Suggest a Gift Exchange

My husband and I have a huge extended family! Our brothers and sisters are all grown now, and we all have children of our own.

As our families have grown, it has become nearly impossible to buy for each child individually.

Now, at our Thanksgiving dinner, we put all the kids names in a cup and draw names to see who we buy for that Christmas.

For instance, my husband and I have three kids, so we would draw three names out of the cup.

The adults have opted to play Dirty Santa or White Elephant games each year. So we each buy only one gift, and it is so much fun!

9. Host a Potluck Dinner or Luncheon

Hosting a holiday party can get super expensive. You have to think of the decorations, the dinnerware, the food and other accommodations.

By hosting a potluck dinner, and asking everyone to bring a dish, you can pretty much worry about the setting and let them worry about the food.

Set a theme and make a list of the types of items to suggest people bring.

Typically, we will make a list of food items, and send it in a group text or create an event on Facebook.

Then, we let everyone choose what they want to bring. This way everyone knows what everyone else is bringing.

10. Use Cashback or Rewards Points

If you have cash back on your credit cards or rewards points, cash those babies in and use them to buy gifts or get steep discounts on name brand items.

I love my Discover card! I will let my cash back add up all year, and use it just for this reason at Christmas time.

If you want to become a Discover Cardmember, you can get a $50 Statement Credit when you make your first purchase within three months.

11. DIY Your Gifts

Handmade gifts are really in right now. Especially the vintage kind.

I love going down to our local vintage and antique warehouse and finding diamonds in the rough.

Completely off subject, but…

My most recent favorite is finding old window frames and turning them into wall art.

If you don’t have an eye for this type of trash-to-treasure transformation, you can go for something simpler like DIY jewelry or customized coffee cups.

Check out some of my favorite and super easy DIY gift ideas here.

12. Send Holiday e-Cards this Year

Instead of creating the perfect holiday gift card, printing them at your local Walgreens, purchasing stamps and envelopes and mailing them off, how about trying e-Cards this year.

This will save you loads of time and money!

13. Shop Online

When you shop online, you save by being able to stay more focused on your gift list.

You can narrow your search to find specific items in just the right price range.

You also don’t have to worry about filling up on gas and eating out while shopping.

14. Homemade Decorations

Homemade decorations are also a popular thing right now. Just make a quick search on Pinterest and you’ll have ideas for days.

If you’re on a super tight budget, search for the latest DIY Dollar Tree Christmas Decorations.

Cute and cheap – my kinda savings!

15. Clean Out Your Closets

You read that right! With five of us under one roof, you can imagine the stuff we accumulate.

Right at the holidays is a great time to clean them out to make room for the new things everyone will acquire over the holiday season.

Once you gather all the stuff you don’t use anymore, take it to your local consignment or resale shop and make some cash.

You could even sell them on eBay or local Facebook resale groups.

16. Shop Around

If you’re not shopping around to find the best price, you could be missing out on some big savings. Especially during the holidays.

There are sales going on every day during the holiday season.

17. Search Online Coupon Codes

This might sound crazy, but I have a whole email account that is dedicated to retail sales coupons and store discounts.

Many stores now offer discounts to those on their mailing list. So, any time I go shopping, I open my email and check out the deals before deciding where I want to go first.

If I don’t find what I want in my email, I simply make a quick search for “online coupon codes for {store name}.” It’s that simple.

18. Shop Amazon Prime

I love, love, love me some Amazon Prime. I have been a member for years. It seems like they are adding new features and benefits all the time.

Some of the most popular around our house are:

  • Prime Video
  • Prime Music
  • Kindle eBooks

And they have just about everything you can think of that you might want to buy!

Most of all, I enjoy the FREE 2-day shipping during the holiday season. Or if I’ve waited last minute to purchase a birthday gift.

Recently they have even added FREE 1-day delivery on tons of items.

And right now you can get a 30-day FREE Trial of Amazon Prime!

If you just want to take advantage of the free shipping during the holidays, sign up now, and cancel before your 30 days runs up for no charge.

19. Focus on the Reason for the Season

Christmas has become overly commercialized. And it’s becoming increasingly more difficult for people not to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of it all.

These days it’s even more important that we focus on the reason for the season.

Instead of spending money, do things that make a difference in your community.

Volunteer at a local shelter or spend time with the elderly that don’t have family to visit. And spend time telling the original story of Christmas and Thanksgiving.

20. Take Snacks on Your Shopping Trips

For me, shopping trips are usually an all day event. I work Monday – Friday full time. So when I have a chance to go, I like to get as much accomplished as possible.

I bring along plenty of snacks to keep me fueled. That way I won’t be tempted by the soft pretzel stand or those warm chocolate chip cookies in the display window.

21. Shop at Your Local Dollar Store

Dollar stores are my favorite during the holidays.

I buy most of my gift wrapping supplies at Dollar Tree. Not to mention the ornaments and supplies to make my DIY decor.

Take a trip down their food isles as well. You never know what unexpected, name brand items they will have.

22. Shop Second Hand

Having to shop for three kids takes a big hit to my wallet every time the seasons change.

Second hand stores are a great way for me to buy my kids and myself name brand clothing at an affordable price. Sometimes I even find items with the tags still on.

23. Cut Back on Nonessentials

There are things that we sometimes buy for ourselves that are more pleasurable than necessary.

Even though we might argue that we NEED that warm, creamy latte every morning, the truth is we can do without.

Just think about how much you spend a day on nonessentials. I bet its probably enough that you could buy one extra gift a week.

24. Take Your Own Holiday Photos

Instead of having a professional photographer take your family photos this year, opt to take your own.

These days our mobile phones are just as equipped as some of the digital cameras. And there are tons of photo editing apps and software out there.

25. Tone Down the Lights

This year use natural decorations. Skip the overwhelming Christmas lights strung all the way around your house, around every window and lining the sidewalk.

Save money by saving electricity.

26. Turn Your Hobby into Extra Cash

If you’ve got a hobby you really enjoy, sell your skills for some extra moolah.

Do you love to bake? Do you DIY your own home decor? Or do you enjoy decorating?

Working moms will pay you to bake cakes for their holiday parties. People will buy your decor as gifts, and people will actually pay you to come and decorate their homes for Christmas.

Advertise it on social media and with your closest friends and family. You might be surprised how much support you get this time of year.

27. Put More Thought Into Gifting

“It’s the thought that counts.” Remember that old saying? Well, it’s true. Especially during the holidays.

Instead of grabbing the first thing you see on the shelf just to check something or someone off your list, take the time to think about what that person will actually find joy in.

A lot of times you will come out spending less while giving a gift that is appreciated.

28. Track Your Spending

With each shopping trip, keep your receipts in a secure place. When you arrive home, review your totals and make sure you are making progress checking off that list.

Keeping track of your spending will help you stay on budget and maybe real it back in if you seem to have gotten off track.

29. DIY Gift Wrapping

When did gift wrap become so expensive? It’s just crazy to me.

Of course, you can buy it from the dollar store, but often times it’s not the same quality.

But did you know, you probably have materials lying around your house that could be put to good use as DIY gift wrap?!

I have seen many options on Pinterest, such as:

  • Newspapers
  • Paper bags
  • Twine
  • Old books
  • Leftover fabric
  • Natural outdoor elements
  • Paper towel tubes

30. Only Pay with Cash

When you’re out shopping, it’s easy to load up your shopping cart and swipe that card each and every time you make a purchase.

The thing is you don’t realize how much you’ve actually spent until it’s all over with.

Then, you’re stuck with this huge credit card bill that you’ll be paying on ’til next Christmas.

31. Earn Free Gift Cards

Spending money on things I don’t really need has always made me a little uncomfortable

Especially since I have 3 kids now. And more so if it’s full price. (I’m a serious bargain shopper.)

Free gift cards have been a work around for me. And, there are many different ways to get them. Online surveys, watching videos, online shopping and even just surfing the web.

Here is a list of some of the best opportunities to get free gift cards for your holiday spending:

  • Swagbucks – Take surveys, upload receipts, sign up for free services to earn points called SB that you can cash in
  • InboxDollars – Get $5 just for signing up and verifying your email
  • Survey Junkie – Take surveys. Give your opinion. Get paid.

32. Use Shopping Apps

In my opinion, shopping apps are the easiest way to save and/or earn money. You get paid for doing what you already do…SHOPPING.

These two are the best out there, IMO:

  • Rakuten – Cash back for shopping your favorite retailers +$10 Sign-up Bonus!
  • Ibotta – Download the app & register. Go shopping. Upload receipt. Earn cash! Also has $10 sign-up bonus!

33. Shop Clearance First

Like I said before, I am a bargain shopper, and this is one of my best tips for saving money during the holidays and all year round.

You might think that clearance is the leftovers that nobody wanted.

BUT…that’s just not true.

A lot of times these items are marked down to move the newest inventory to the forefront.

34. Plan Menus in Advance

You would not believe how much you can save by meal planning. It might seem like a lot of work, but it’s so worth it.

Plus, it keeps me from having to run to the store multiple times a week.

When I sit down and make a list of the things we will eat each day, it makes it easier to create my grocery list. Then, I know exactly what I need when I get to the store.

35. Four Gift Christmas for Kids

Kids these days are becoming more entitled and spoiled. (I can say that. I have kids. lol) And Christmas has become so commercialized.

If you want to stay true to the meaning of Christmas but still want to give your kids something to open on Christmas morning, you should try the 4-Gift Christmas Rule.

  1. Something they WANT
  2. Something they NEED
  3. Something to WEAR
  4. Something to READ

Have your kids complete their wish list using the criteria above. They can list a few items for each category and you choose one.

You get to keep the costs down and keep the spirit of Christmas alive.

36. Cash Out Your PTO

This is not one you will hear about a lot. And, not everyone will have this option.

But if you’re like me and work all the time without taking much vacation time, you probably have a PTO bank full.

Check with our human resources department to see if cashing out some of that accrued paid time off can be cashed in for some extra cash.

37. Exchange Favors (Services)

Maybe you’re a photographer, baker or crafter. Whatever service you offer, there is someone out there in need of it.

All you need to do is find that person who also provides a service that you could benefit from.

For instance, you could take their family photos in exchange for them making the baked goods for your family dinner.

38. Buy In Bulk

During the holidays there will be sales going on everywhere. And some of the best deals come in bulk.

So buy up those bulk items and split them into separate gifts. This could be a set of 2 throw blankets or a variety pack of perfumes.

I love to put gift baskets together this way!

39. Combined Gifts

If you have a large extended family, it can get expensive to buy for everyone individually.

This year, try buying a gift for the family, like a gift card to their favorite family restaurant.

40. Freezer Meals

Freezer meals go right along with meal planning. The difference? You actually prepare the meal and freeze it.

This way you save yourself prep time when you’re pressed for time.

And it keeps you from being so overwhelmed and then opting to eat out because it’s easier.

41. Skip Pay

This tip won’t actually save you money in the long run.

But, it will free up some money during the holidays so you have more to spend on Christmas shopping and events with family.

Not all creditors offer this, but I was able to use this last year for my car note. I just had to pay the skip pay fee of $40 to my creditor, and they extended my agreement another month.

If this interests you, check with your finance company for your vehicle or home loan to see if they offer this option.

Saving Money During the Holidays – Recap

I hope this list of money-saving tips for the holidays is just what you were looking for!

I know what it’s like for the holidays to hit and be so stressed about overspending that it’s difficult to enjoy the holiday season.

And I don’t want that to be you. So, give some of these awesome money-saving tips for the holidays a try.

If you have any tips for saving money during the holiday season or how to do Christmas for cheap, share them with us in the comments.

And if you try any of these ideas to help you save money, let us know how it goes.

If you have any tips for saving money during the holiday season or how to do Christmas for cheap, share them with us in the comments. I can’t wait to hear about how these money-saving tips help you make it through the holidays without going broke.

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