Budgeting Tips for any Holiday

By: Amanda Christensen, AFC, Extension Associate Professor

December 22, 2021

jar of money labeled holiday

Many people feel pressured to overspend during the holidays. Keeping consumers connected to holiday sales is the goal of every advertiser big or small. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans are projected to spend up to $859 billion over the 2021 holiday season. To help you avoid an empty wallet while still enjoying holiday festivities, Christmas or otherwise, here are some key questions to ask yourself and some expert tips to implement. 
Questions to ask Yourself:
1.  What is one of my big money wasters during this particular holiday?
2.  What plan can I put in place to avoid wasting money in this area?
3.  Am I adequately budgeting for holiday travel expenses I incur?
4.  Do I need to replace an expensive tradition with a festive, no-cost tradition?
5.  What might I need to change so my spending aligns better with what’s most important to me during this holiday?
Expert Budgeting Tips:
  • Avoid “Buy now, Pay later” options that can easily lead to overspending. Many major retailers have partnered with companies who offer you the chance to pay your bill in four equal payments, over time with supposedly no fees or interest. However, here’s the catch: whenever you use one of these services, the company is running a soft credit check on you before you’re approved. So, if you miss a payment your credit score and your budget both take hit.  
  • Establish a Money Mantra. Something like, “What I’ve done is enough” or “I have everything I need”, which you will repeat to yourself often. This helps tremendously when moments of peer pressure (or “kid” pressure) come along and you’re trying to stick to your budget. 
  • Make a Plan to Disconnect. The best way to avoid holiday stress and curb last minute panic buying is to disconnect from the constant spend, spend, spend messaging. Plan a specific day to intentionally disconnect by throwing ads away, deleting emails, and even temporarily unfollowing influencers who will be consistently posting deals.