Five holiday budgeting tips

How to get through the season without emptying your wallet.
Published December 22, 2019

It feels like we say this every year, but somehow time has flown, again, November has rolled around, and the holidays are fast approaching.

The holiday season is synonymous with consumerism, and it’s tempting to buy more than we should and spend beyond our means. So, we asked a couple of experts for their advice. Here are five tips to help you curb your spending and keep your holiday budget under control.

1) Meal plan

Scott and Bethany Palmer, also known as The Money Couple, and authors of The 5 Money Personalities, advise planning out your meals from now until the end of the holiday season. “With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, most don’t take the time to plan out their meals and end up eating out at restaurants and can rack up hundreds or thousands of dollars of needless spending,” they say.

2) Make your shopping list now

The Palmers recommend making your holiday shopping list as early as possible and assigning a budget to it. “Knowing exactly who you’re buying for, gift ideas, and assigning them dollar amounts in advance will help you be prepared and avoid splurging,” say the Palmers, who together have 50 years of financial planning experience.

3) Discuss dollar amounts for significant-other spending

“Sit down with your significant other and discuss a dollar amount you’ll spend on each other this season,” the Palmers advise. “You CAN make each other feel special without breaking the bank on a major splurge.”  

4) Call it a wrap on wrapping paper

Jennifer McDermott, consumer advocate for personal finance website, suggests avoiding the added expense of wrapping paper this holiday season.

“From both a cost and environmental perspective, wrapping paper is incredibly wasteful,” she says, “as it lasts mere seconds after you give it to the recipient. You don’t need to resort to handing over naked presents though. Get creative with recycled paper and some paints for a personalized wrap job.”

5) Don’t buy on impulse

“The frenzied nature of holiday shopping – the sales, the deadlines, the crowds – can lead to some pretty poor spending decisions,” McDermott says, citing a recent study that found that 88.6 per cent of American adults have fallen prey to the impulsive online shop, resulting in an estimated US$17.78 billion spent on items they haven’t thought through.

“Once you have your holiday budget, take time to research what you want to buy,” she says. “This will not only save you money, it will likely see you get a gift the recipient will be more appreciative of.”