Any­one who knows me well is aware of the fact that I go a lit­tle over­board dur­ing the hol­i­days. I over­load on movies like Elf, A Mup­pets Christ­mas Car­ol, and A Christ­mas Sto­ry. I have the Pan­do­ra Hol­i­day sta­tion churn­ing out one-hit won­ders, and old stan­dards. It is also not uncom­mon to see my best friend and I at Tar­get the day after Christ­mas with two shop­ping carts filled to the brim with 50% off Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions.


I am *usu­al­ly* a very sen­si­ble shop­per, but dur­ing the hol­i­days I strug­gle with my spend­ing. The hol­i­days can take a toll on anyone’s wal­let. There are tips to be giv­en, presents to be pur­chased, par­ties to attend, and secret san­tas to shop for. So how does one sur­vive all of this won­der­ful crazi­ness with mon­ey still in the bank? Each person’s spend­ing habits are dif­fer­ent, so what works for me may not work for you. Even so, here is my list of 14 ideas on how to sur­vive the hol­i­days with­out break­ing the bank.


  1. Make a REALISTIC bud­get: I love find­ing the per­fect gift for my loved ones, and mak­ing my house look like an elf threw up all over it, but I can’t go into debt just to get “the gift of a life­time”, or that amaz­ing San­ta that plays the sax­o­phone. Start broad, and drill down in each cat­e­go­ry. Click here to down­load our Hol­i­day Bud­get Plan­ner. 

  2. Leave the cred­it cards at home: It is just too tempt­ing to swipe that plas­tic won­der when you have all those hol­i­day warm fuzzies flow­ing through your sys­tem. The eas­i­est way to stick to your hol­i­day bud­get is to use the enve­lope method. How­ev­er much you have allo­cat­ed to spend for each category/person/event, place in an enve­lope and stick to the lim­it you have set. Have mon­ey left over? GREAT! You can save it, or allo­cate it to anoth­er cat­e­go­ry for a lit­tle more spend­ing in that area.

  3. Make a list and check it twice: When you go shop­ping make sure you have a defin­i­tive list of what you will be buy­ing and try not to devi­ate from that list. A great tool to help you cre­ate and keep track of your var­i­ous lists is Wun­derlist. I just start­ed using this app, and I am IN LOVE.

  4. Send e‑cards: I love get­ting actu­al mail that is not spam or a bill, but depend­ing on how large your mail­ing list is you could end up spend­ing a ton of mon­ey on hol­i­day greet­ing cards. Instead make a Jib­Jab hol­i­day e‑card, or cre­ate a MailChimp account and send out a hol­i­day e‑mail.

  5. Get your DIY on: In the age of Pin­ter­est it has become incred­i­bly easy to find ways to make inex­pen­sive, yet AWESOME gifts. Don’t believe me? Have a look for your­self. I per­son­al­ly would much rather have a gift my friend/family made for me than a gift card to some gener­ic store or restau­rant.

  6. Make your own wrap­ping paper, and gift tags: Yes, again this is anoth­er DIY sug­ges­tion, but it could be fun, espe­cial­ly for chil­dren. Buy a roll of blank white paper or brown pack­ag­ing paper, set out some glit­ter and mark­ers, and you are ready to cre­ate some leg­endary wrap­ping paper.

  7. Have a swap meet: Invite your friends and fam­i­ly over to exchange their unwant­ed dec­o­ra­tions.  This is a great way to have fun, save mon­ey & get new-to-you dec­o­ra­tions!

  8. Set Up Secret San­tas or Gift Exchanges: When you have a large fam­i­ly or friend group,  buy­ing presents for every­one can drain your bank account fast. Con­sid­er draw­ing names for your own secret san­ta. That way every­one still gets a gift (that is prob­a­bly nicer and more thought­ful), and every­one saves a lot of mon­ey.

  9. Shop the sales: Try to plan out your gift list in advance and watch for these items to go on sale online or in-store. Use sites like to stay on top of sales.

  10. Exchange gifts a week or two after the Hol­i­days are over: The amount of mon­ey a per­son can save the first few days after the hol­i­days are over is mind bog­gling! This is espe­cial­ly nice for fam­i­ly or friend groups that trav­el a lot for the hol­i­days.

  11. If you are giv­ing Gift Cards, buy them at a dis­count: Check out and Both sites offer gift cards that oth­ers didn’t want – at a dis­count­ed price. You can save up to 35 per­cent.

  12. Get a sea­son­al job: The ben­e­fits of get­ting a sea­son­al job can be two-fold. First, it is more mon­ey in your pock­et. And sec­ond, if you get a job at a place you would buy a lot of your gifts you will have the ben­e­fits of an employ­ee dis­count! But a word of cau­tion: do not go over­board because of the dis­count. Get­ting a sea­son­al job can be a dou­ble edge sword because some peo­ple actu­al­ly increase their spend­ing.

  13. Just say “no”: The hol­i­days are busy, and you do not have to do every­thing. Turn down an activ­i­ty if you’re feel­ing over­whelmed.

  14. Don’t for­get the “rea­son for the sea­son”: And I’m not just talk­ing about the spir­i­tu­al rea­son. The hol­i­days are a time to enjoy your fam­i­ly and friends and remind them how much you care. You don’t need presents to show your love, all you need is you!