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Holiday spending is expected to increase this year, as more and more families return to in-person celebrations. According to a forecast by Deloitte, U.S. consumers are expected to spend up to 9% more this holiday season than they did in 2020. Increases in spending, especially around the holidays can derail your budget. Keep holiday spending on track and avoid credit card debt by following these holiday budgeting tips. 

It’s easy to justify excess spending because many of our favorite traditions, like traveling, elaborate meals and gift-giving add up, but these tips can help.

Holiday Budgeting Tips:

  1. Get an Early Start to Spread Out Holiday Spending
  2. Keep Your Holiday Shopping List Exclusive
  3. Use a Free Holiday Budget Planner
  4. Fund Holiday Spending with a Side Hustle
  5. Reduce Spending with Thrifty Holiday Ideas

1. Get an Early Start to Spread Out Holiday Spending

One way to get in over your head with holiday spending is to save all your big purchases for the last minute. If you start shopping early, you can spread out our spending over several months which can make it easier to pay for things. 

Consider starting your holiday shopping in the Fall. Buying early means you’ll have a greater selection of items to choose from. Also, shipping and postal delays are expected to continue this year, so getting an early start will help ensure that your gifts arrive on time. 

2. Keep Your Holiday Shopping List Exclusive

Santa Claus might buy presents for everyone, but you don’t have to. Save your gifting budget for a core group of family and friends.

If you want to give gifts to acquaintances like co-workers and neighbors, consider lower-cost options like baked goods, which convey appreciation without breaking the bank. There are plenty of thrifty holiday gifting ideas online to help you spread holiday cheer without spending a lot of money.

3. Use a Free Holiday Budget Planner

Budgets don’t have to be one size fits all but you can simplify the process by using a premade template like this FREE Holiday Budget Planner. Click the link to copy, save and edit your own. You can use the budget template to estimate how much you plan this year and where you’ll need extra funds to cover your spending. 


Our copy is locked for editing, but you can save your own version to edit as you please.

If you have a Google account: 

  • simply click “File” and “Make a copy” in the upper left-hand corner to save.

If you don’t have a Google Account: 

  • simply click “Download” to save the spreadsheet as a PDF or Excel file.
Top Dollar Holiday Budget Spreadsheet
Make a Copy of the Holiday Budget

4. Fund Holiday Spending with a Side Hustle

Instead of using credit or savings to fund your holiday festivities, consider picking up a temporary side hustle to make extra cash. You can use your holiday budget to determine how much money you need and pick up extra work with that goal in mind. 

Side hustles are part-time, often temporary, and flexible jobs that have become popular in recent years. In most cases, they give you the ability to set your own hours so you can pick up as much or as little work as you want. There are many app-based opportunities that simplify earning, or you can run independent side hustles and offer goods and services based on your skills. 

Common side hustles include:

  • Rideshare driving
  • Delivery services
  • Dog walking
  • Babysitting
  • Virtual or In-Person Tutoring
  • Handmade goods and services

Warning: Although many side hustles are like small businesses, it’s best to avoid opportunities that require significant overhead or startup costs, including inventory or monthly volume requirements.

5. Reduce Spending with Thrifty Holiday Ideas

There are plenty of fun and creative ways to save money this holiday season that won’t make you feel like you breaking the bank. 

Decoration Swap: host a swap with friends and family to trade gently used holiday decorations so you can enjoy something new to you!

Digital Holiday Cards: save on postage and avoid mail delays by going digital with your holiday greeting cards. You can use a free design app like Canva, with hundreds of templates to customize a holiday greeting to share via email, text and social media. 

Prioritize Experiences Over Gifts: Instead of focusing on buying things for those you care about, plan budget-friendly experiences that are budget-friendly. Gifts are lovely, but memories stay with us always! Plan a hot chocolate and board game night with friends, go to a free holiday light display, for example.

Don’t Forget to Have Fun!

It’s good to be budget-conscious, but make sure you don’t spend your whole holiday season fretting over money. You don’t want to end up becoming the family Scrooge! It’s OK to spend money on things you enjoy! 

As long as you are being thoughtful and keeping an eye on your budget, you can avoid serious problems like missing bill payments or racking up credit card debt that you can’t afford to pay back.

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