Money Saving Tips

15 Tips on How Not to Hurt Your Wallet This Christmas

Written by Irina Vasilescu

It’s that time of the year again when you would have to prepare your wallet for all the shopping that you will be doing come Christmas time. Starting from Thanksgiving when you would have to spend practically a fortune preparing for the family dinner to Christmas day when you would have to distribute gifts to family members and friends, the expenses would really put a huge dent in your wallet.

If you’re looking for tips on how not to hurt your wallet this Christmas, you’ve come to the right place!

Although there is absolutely nothing wrong in spreading the holiday cheer, there is no need for you to put yourself in debt, either. There are perfectly acceptable yet cheap gifts that you can give as presents to loved ones. A well thought out present which may not be that expensive can be more meaningful for the recipient as compared to a more expensive gift which has nothing to do with the person’s likes or personality.

Also, did you know that more than 13 million Americans are still paying off their holiday debts from the previous year? Instead of starting out a new year with your finances in order, why would you go deep in debt just so that you can complete your holiday shopping? With a bit of planning and scrimping, you can give presents to all your loved ones without hurting your wallet.

According to the National Retail Federation’s survey for the holidays, the average American spends around $700 on holiday gifts, cards and décor. If you think that this is a bit beyond what you can afford to spend, there are plenty of ways for you to cut back on your holiday shopping expenses. Read on to find out what they are.

Top 15 Tips to on How Not to Hurt Your Wallet This Christmas

If you would not like to put a huge dent in your pocket while crossing out items from your Christmas shopping list, what are you supposed to do? Take a look at our top 15 tips on how to save money for your Christmas shopping:

1. Make a list, check it twice

If you have a big family with plenty of relatives, how can you make sure that you will not get carried away when shopping for presents? It is best to make a list and check it twice. Since you have a limited budget, you can count the number of individuals to whom you plan giving presents, and make a few quick calculations.

If your budget for gifts is $500 and you have 20 people on your list, you can set a limit of $25 for each present. You can even have some money left over if you find gifts which are cheaper than that.

Another way to pare down your list of people to give presents to is to set up a Secret Santa within the family. For this, you will be drawing names so everyone has to buy only one gift for one person. This makes it easier for everyone’s budget while making sure that all members of the family will receive a gift.

2. Prior to your holiday shopping, set aside funds in cash form

There are online saving tools like SmartyPig.com where you can stow away money – similar to a savings account at a bank. The only difference is that the accounts here are specifically designed for Christmas shopping. Once it’s time for you to withdraw the money which you were able to pool together, you will be given rewards in the form of gift cards from partner retailers. Bonus percentages on purchases are also awarded.

3. Start shopping for those holiday gifts early

The holiday season, in general, can be really stressful, especially if you find yourself shopping for gifts close to the deadline – which can be Thanksgiving or Christmas Day. To relieve the stress and give your wallet a much-needed breather, start shopping for those holiday gifts early. Again, it pays to make a list and already have an idea about which gift you can give to each individual.

Year-round, keep your eye open for items that friends and family members would like to receive during the holiday season. Use a box and label the item with the price, as well as which person you plan to give the gift to. This makes your gift-giving sessions a lot easier to complete once November arrives.

4. Do an online price comparison

Those who do not like going to crowded malls can simply purchase the gift items they need online. To do a quick price comparison, you can visit sites like ConsumerReports.org, Amazon.com, PriceGrabber.com or CNET.com. These will give you an idea about the prices and the product reviews, so you can get the best bang for your buck when buying presents.

5. Take advantage of holiday offers for discounts and free shipping from online stores

The good thing about the holiday season is that most stores take full advantage of the rush and shopping frenzy by offering great promos. As a consumer, you can qualify for excellent offers like free shipping; buy-one-get-one-free; discounts; gift cards; free personalization features; etc. Be on the lookout for such deals so that you can maximize your holiday shopping.

6. Go on a Black Friday shopping spree

If you don’t mind the crowds, go on a Black Friday shopping spree which is held right after Thanksgiving. Check out BlackFriday.org so you can be updated about which stores offer the biggest discounts for the shopping holiday. Just make sure that the prices offered on the stores that you will hit are really lower than regular price so your efforts will not be wasted.

7. Hit up the stores on Cyber Monday

In 2005, online retailers debuted an event called Cyber Monday. It’s held on the Monday after Black Friday, where online shoppers can get really good discounts on gadgets and similar items. For this, you can check out CyberMonday.com and see which items you can buy to gift as gifts for your loved ones.

8. Opt for do-it-yourself presents

Do you love baking, knitting, cross-stitching or making handmade scrapbooks? Instead of buying presents, you can simply make batches of cookies to distribute to family members for the holiday season. You can knit booties for your new born niece, frame a cross-stitched picture for your grandma, or give your mom a scrapbook with your old family photos.

For these, you can use the materials that you already have at home so there is no need for you to pay a single cent. What’s even better is that you can add a personal touch to your gifts by making them yourself.

9. Be resourceful when looking for discount codes

For free shipping, you can visit the official websites of Best Buy, L.L. Bean, Amazon and FreeShipping.org. For discount cards, check out our site DontPayFull.com. Aside from free shipping offers, you can get anywhere from 20% to 50% off the retail prices.

10. Take full advantage of the cash back and points features of your credit card

You’re already planning to spend a few hundred dollars on your holiday shopping, so you might as well get something out of it. Visit Ebates.com to get rebate checks for your purchases. You can also give your credit card company a call so that you can be aware of the promotions and offers that they have for cash backs, rewards points, gift checks or free items when you use your card for purchases.

11. Know where to get cheap Christmas trees

Buy your Christmas tree in the middle of December. You can find very cheap artificial trees at major stores or hardware stores right after the rush is over. Live trees can also be bought from garden stores and the really tall ones can be had for as low as $25.

12. For your holiday decorations, repurpose or hit the thrift stores

It’s perfectly fine to go on a binge when buying Christmas decorations especially if they’re on sale, but there’s no need for you to buy brand new ones every year.

What you can do is repurpose those holiday decors and simply choose a color theme so that they will look different each year. For instance, you can have a red-and-gold Christmas tree this year. Next year, you can use the same red decorations but add silver instead of gold. This will significantly cut back your budget for holiday decorations.

13. Save money on wrapping paper

If you will be wrapping dozens of presents for the holidays, you will spend a significant amount on ribbons, tape and wrapping paper.

What you can do is recycle the old wrapping paper that you have, or any decorative paper that you are stocking up somewhere from your previous art projects.

You can also repurpose the colorful magazine pages or colored tissue paper to use as wrapping paper. Go online to look for ideas on how you can prettily wrap those gifts using recycled paper.

14. Grab those last minute deals

The websites where you can get great last-minute deals are RedEnvelope.com, BlueNile.com and Wine.com. As long as you’re aware of the cut-off date for holiday deliveries, you can get great discounts without having the presents arrive too late to your doorstep.

15. Learn how to save money when using gift cards

Finally, learn how to use gift cards wisely. Sites like GiftCardGranny allow you to buy $25 gift cards and give them as presents to your loved ones for the holiday season. If you’re really out of gift ideas, gift cards make for the perfect present because the recipient can decide which items to purchase.

Follow these tips and you will not hurt your wallet when going holiday shopping.

About the author

Irina Vasilescu

Irina Vasilescu is our crafty designer. She joined the team three years ago and is also involved in the writing process.

10 Comments

  • These are some incredibly important tips. For all the savings that I can do here and there over the year, Christmas for me is by far the biggest expense that needs to be kept under control. At least I don’t have young children, which would really be driving the spending picture. Still, I still have to spend a lot over the general season, and hopefully I’ll be able to keep the figure under control.

    • I agree, 100% haha. I can’t imagine my life right now with kids, that’d be a dire situation for everybody involved I think.

      I hope I’ll get through this holiday season okay though. I don’t have huge amounts of holiday cheer in me but I seldom do anyway so…

      But I will say this to everyone; Have a great christmas/holiday season and take care of yourselves! 🙂

  • Making a list, and shopping early are key things for me to do for this Christmas season. I like all of the ideas here in this article, but these are the only two that I will probably put into practice. I would love to be able to get all of my shopping done early, if finances permit.

    • I’m surprised to see the $700 budget for most families – I would imagine that it would be much higher. I know that within my family of four we’re spending close to $100 per person among just immediate family. Beyond that there are also close friends and some nearby relatives – the cost of Christmas gifting balloons past the $1k mark fairly quickly.

      That being said, we’re pretty accustomed to giving big ticket gifts and will usually avoid purchasing these items for ourselves throughout the year. In a way, I guess we just sort of back-load our big ticket buys to the end of the year instead.

  • The most relevant point for me is to do the shopping early. In my case, I find that buying certain gifts around the shopping holidays (like Black Friday for example) really makes sense when considering certain items like electronics, especially if it’s non perishable and won’t likely lose too much value while waiting for Christmas day.

  • I can not speak well enough of doing online price checks!! That one really sticks out to me because I have saved SO much money over the last few years by doing just that. It probably amounts to several hundred dollars at this point. Had I not saved by doing price checks, there would be a lot of other things I would have had to go without entirely, like the ballet classes I love.

  • I’ve already began planning when it comes to Christmas shopping and avoiding going over budget or spending more than I need to. I want to be ahead of everything and will begin starting Black Friday and Cyber Monday, where there will be a few nice deals to sink my teeth in. It’s always better to not wait for the last minute to scramble to buy items and to pay close attention to the prices. It’s so much more helpful.

  • I am always super stressed when it comes to holiday spending. We are on one income and I don’t always have a lot of money to spend on gifts. My fix for this is that during the year I do things on line like turking and rewards sites and surveys and I save everything I earn to spend during christmas… this gives me a few hundred dollars to shop online with and I don’t have to break my family’s budget to shop.

  • Thank you for these tips. It’s just ridiculous how much I end up spending over Christmas shopping. It is most certainly not worth the stress and time over the amount of savings you get. I use google chrome, and there are many extensions to help you find cheaper stocks of gifts. If possible, I prefer buying experiences rather than material gifts, such as tickets to a concert or a museum pass.

  • Nice Tips. I always find that during the holidays I really have to limit myself. I make a list and do my best to stick to both it and my predetermined spending limit. Sometimes you just have to commit to saying you have done enough to prevent yourself from damaging your finances.

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