Christmas Spending: Plan Now to Save Later

If your finances are reeling after yet another spendy Christmas, take these 5 steps to prevent the same stress next year.  The time to plan for Christmas is now.

1.  Make a list of your gift recipients. Realizing that your list will likely change throughout the year, you can still get a good visual of how many gifts you need and who you’ll need to buy for.  Keep this information handy, perhaps in a home management binder.

2.  Set your Christmas gift-giving budget. If you’re in the “I have no idea what I’m going to spend until I spend it” camp, start by looking over your receipts (or gift list) from last Christmas.  Make a solid estimate and pad it a little if you want some wiggle room, but stick to that number.

3.  Start saving now. Don’t let January turn to March turn to September turn to December and we have no money in our budget for Christmas! Divide your total gift giving budget by 12 and set aside that money each month in an envelope, a Christmas Club account, or whatever works for you.  Here’s a hint:  If you find it difficult to save 1/12 of your Christmas budget per month, it’s set too high. Cut back!

4.  Sign up for Swagbucks and download the toolbar.  Using this free search engine earns you points that can be redeemed for gift cards.  I used tons of Amazon gift cards from Swagbucks to do a lot of my shopping last year, easing our out-of-pocket expenses.  With your own internet searching you could easily earn a $5 Amazon card per month, but if you refer your friends, your swagbucks savings will add up much faster.

5.  Shop throughout the year, keeping an eye on clearance sales.  I started my bargain hunting last week, taking advantage of the amazing DaySpring 75% off after-Christmas clearance.  This shopping strategy may not work for everyone on your list, but it’s perfect for grab bag items, teacher gifts, and stocking stuffers.  We keep a “gift box” in our basement, full of deeply-discounted items to use for kids’ birthday parties, baby showers, and Christmas.

Christmas shopping does not have to strain your budget and your holiday cheer.  Plan ahead for a peaceful, well-spent Christmas!

What steps do you take to prevent over-spending at Christmas?

This post is linked to Frugal Friday.

Full disclosure:  this post contains affiliate links.


  1. Great reminder!! Last year I didn’t shop throughout the year (like I typically do) and then started saving for Christmas in September! Needless to say, we were scrambling a little to pay cash for everything!!

    I’ve learned from my mistakes and we’re already putting a little from each paycheck into a Christmas savings account!!

  2. Hadn’t thought about it yet, but this is a great reminder. 😀 Need to start making plans now! 😀

  3. I use All of those tips and it works!! We got out of Christmas without additional credit card debt!!!

  4. We do just what you suggest–set our Christmas budget in January, set aside 1/12th of the money each month, and keep an eye out for good deals year-round. We also keep our overall dollar amount low by exchanging gifts only with immediate family and our very closest friends and by giving each person just one gift. Psychologically, it’s hard to do, but it’s great on our pocketbook (we never have Christmas debt) and keeps the focus on Jesus, not presents.

  5. Our Christmas gets very expensive between gifts and plane tickets for everyone. So I’m determined this year to plan ahead. I’m actually dividing our budget by 26, the number of paychecks we get. That way I’m taking out a little each check instead of a bigger sum just once a month.

  6. I know a few of the gifts that I want to make for my children this Christmas (using things I already have in my sewing closet). My hope is to get those things made. We don’t buy presents unless we can; most are homemade. As we are not shopping at all right now (for food or anything else, thanks to a cut in pay, but just eating from our pantry and working to keep our utilities low), I cannot buy anything–and that’s okay. We are pretty used to homemade christmas gifts, and if we are able to, some needed items will be purchased and put under the tree. If not, then, we will do without–and that’s okay, too!

  7. This is a great idea. I usually just start in the summer. But this year for the first time ever I have already started by taking advantage of the christmas clearance toys. Each month I’m hoping to add a couple of items and check them off the list in hopes that by December I will be finished with gifts and also be under budget.

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