Avoid Going Broke During the Holidays

It might be tempting to go big this Christmas, but our financial experts warn that the last thing we need is to add the stress of having to pay back holiday debt on top of other stresses we’re already facing.

5 Ways You Can Enjoy Christmas & Save Money This Year

It’s once again almost time for seasonal cheer, joyous celebrations, and for many people, endless holiday spending. From vacations to gifts to parties, it’s easy to lose track of your expenses. While there are so many reasons to enjoy the season, you will be far less stressed if you celebrate Christmas on a budget.

The good news is, saving money during the holidays is possible! You don’t have to go into debt to have a smashing good time. Read on to discover ways to avoid going broke during the holidays — but still enjoy every minute of it.

1.   Create a Holiday Budget

Some people set aside savings throughout the year for a holiday fund. If you’re one of these financially-savvy people, congratulations! You will likely make it through the season without money troubles.

If you didn’t think of this sooner, try it out next year.

For now, the next best thing to do is to create a reasonable holiday budget — one that will still let you enjoy the season! It’s an ideal way to avoid overspending.

First, take a good look at your finances and decide on an amount you can afford to spend. Doing so can prevent you from cutting into your home, emergency, and retirement funds. Consider all the things you want to spend on, including:

  • Vacations

  • Gifts

  • Wrapping materials

  • Cards and postage

  • Parties

  • Home decorations

  • Clothes

  • Charity donations

Don’t panic if you later discover your budget won’t cover your whole list. Instead, set your priorities. For instance, you can do away with the iPhone 13 Pro Max purchase if your one-year-old iPhone 11 still works perfectly. You can also skip the giant inflatable Santa-and-reindeer set if it’s too expensive.

Remember that your budget isn’t set in stone. You can adjust it accordingly to address your needs.

2.   Take a Holiday Job

If you find that you can’t keep up with your holiday spending, consider taking a temporary part-time job. After all, Christmas is usually a busy time for most businesses. Here are some of the most fun seasonal jobs:

For some, the thought of wrapping gifts will send shivers down their spine. This is a category I fit squarely within! However, if you enjoy wrapping gifts, you might be able to earn some extra income at a local retail store during the holiday season.

  • Personal gift shopper: This job involves shopping for other people. Retail establishments often require clothes, accessories, and gift shoppers during the holidays.

  • Gift wrapper: If you have a knack for the arts, you can work at retail stores wrapping customer purchases. These workers often receive ample training on using wrappers, ribbons, and tags.

  • Customer service representative (CSR): Many companies hire CSRs during high-sales seasons. As a CSR, you have the option to work in-store or at home via phone or chat.

  • Santa photographer: For every store Santa you see, there’s a photographer opportunity opening waiting to be filled. If you’re good with kids and have the photography, editing, and organizational skills, this position could be a viable option.

  • Snow removal driver: As the Starks fondly say, winter is coming. Snow removal companies in snow-laden areas often hire seasonal help to prepare for the storms. If you’re from Minneapolis, Milwaukee, or Chicago and have the license and equipment experience, this job is ideal for you.

3.   Make DIY Christmas Gifts

One of the easiest ways to enjoy the spirit of Christmas on a budget is to make DIY gifts. If you spend anywhere between $15 – $25 per gift, this list of $10 (or less) homemade gift ideas will help you save massive amounts.

There are many lists like this online. Check them out for some holiday inspiration. Here are some of the most useful ones:

  • Lemon sugar scrub: This beauty essential recipe promotes smooth skin and fights aging. You can use it on your face and body. Aside from an eight-ounce container, you only need three ingredients to make it: sugar, coconut oil, and lemon essential oil.

  • Sugar cookies: If you have an oven and baking essentials like butter, sugar, and eggs at home, you can bake for your friends! Nobody would say no to a batch of Christmas-themed sugar cookies.

  • Beeswax candles: This DIY hack is perfect for you and the kids. These candles are super affordable and easy to make. You only need beeswax sheets and wicks to produce them. Feel free to add ribbons and bags for packaging.

  • Custom soap bars: Thrifty people, unite! This soap bar recipe guarantees maximum savings. For only $1 per bar ($10 per batch), you can create colorful gifts for your friends and neighbors.

  • Yoga mat spray: Seriously, have you ever cleaned your yoga mat? This yoga mat cleaner tutorial will remind your health-conscious loved ones to keep theirs in tip-top shape. With witch hazel, essential oils, some water, and an amber bottle, you can earn the top spot in this year's list of the best gift-givers.

4.   Start New Traditions

For those lucky enough to spend Christmas with your family, you and your loved ones can save massive amounts if you start new traditions.

For example, you can arrange an exchange gift activity. If you usually spend the holidays with ten other people, spending $25 per gift would equal $250. Here’s an idea for saving money during the holidays:

  • Ask everyone to create a wishlist of five items worth $100 and below.

  • Draw lots digitally to assign one gift-giver to every family member.

  • Have everybody pick one product from the list and buy it.

With a new exchange gift tradition like this, everybody will go home a winner. Imagine, everyone saves money and receives a valuable gift instead of random items they might not even like at all.

However, if you feel like nobody wants to spend on gifts, turn your get-together into a game night with a door charge. For instance, you can charge $20 for all attendees to use as a winner-takes-all prize for a night of charades, trivia, and Minute to Win It games. Feel free to build teams and create rules as you wish.

5.   Remember the Purpose of Christmas

Christmas is traditionally a religious holiday commemorating Jesus, God’s gift to humanity. Remember that it’s not just about luxurious vacations and lavish gifts. Instead, it’s a time of joy, peace, and great tidings.

If you can’t spend a lot of money on gifts this year, don’t underestimate the power of your presence. Your time means more to your loved ones than any material thing money can buy.

Keep Your Finances in Check at All Times of the Year

The holidays should be a time for cheer, but remember that no celebration should cause you financial distress. If you plan accordingly, you can have the time of your life during the Christmas season and still keep your finances in check.

If you want to learn more about being money-savvy, check out Money Fit’s free online courses. It’s time to start your journey toward a secure future.

Rick Munster

About the Author

Rick’s been with Money Fit by DRS for 18 years and early in his career, he managed two divisions, customer service, and credit counseling, before settling in his current role of managing the organization’s marketing efforts. He is known for being someone who’d give the shirt off of his back for you, and smile while doing it! He takes that positivity and problem solving to consumers when relaying a message of help, hope, and better times ahead. When he isn’t helping consumers regain control of their debt, he loves traveling and seeing new places.