It’s never too early to start your Christmas savings plan.
Christmas is expensive, with Americans spending an average of $997.73 on gifts, food, and holiday decor.
Since the average American spends approximately $1,000 during the holiday season, it’s no surprise that 36% went into debt because of Christmas shopping last year.
Without a Christmas savings plan, where will you find that extra $1,000?
We’ll give you a hint – you probably won’t. That means purchases will wind up on credit cards, and you’ll start 2023 paying off your 2022 Christmas debts. No, thank you!
The holidays don’t have to break you financially – all you need is a Christmas savings plan and a budget you can stick to. These 25 tips will help you have a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!
1. Set a Christmas savings plan goal
The first step in your Christmas savings plan is to set a goal – just make sure it’s accurate.
Start with non-gift purchases, like decorations, holiday entertainment events, and those delicious holiday treats! Then make a list of everyone you plan to shop for and how much you’re willing to spend on each person.
2. Don’t wait, start saving now
Once you have a Christmas savings plan goal, start saving!
It may not feel like it, but Christmas is right around the corner, so setting weekly goals is helpful. Just take the goal amount you want to reach and divide it by the number of weeks from now until Christmas.
For example, if you have 12 weeks until Christmas and your Christmas savings goal is $1,000, you’ll need to save about $84 a week.
3. Work a side hustle
If you know you don’t have enough time to reach your Christmas savings plan goal with your usual income, consider making extra money.
4. Sell stuff online
Another great way to make some extra cash is by selling your unused stuff on Facebook Marketplace, eBay, or Craigslist. Use this money to reach your Christmas savings plan goal. As an extra bonus, the closer you get to the holiday season, the easier it will be to find buyers!
5. Host a garage sale
In addition to selling items online, host an old-fashioned garage sale specifically for adding funds to your Christmas savings plan.
You can even work together with your neighbors to create and spread the word about a neighborhood-wide sale!
6. Cash in rewards points
If you’ve been waiting to cash in rewards points from your credit card, bank, or coupon app, this is the time to do it! Check your accounts to see how many points you’ve accumulated and how to redeem them. Then use the money you’ve earned (or saved) to work towards your savings goal.
7. Cut expenses
Another super effective way to reach your Christmas savings plan goal is to cut expenses.
This won’t only help you save at Christmas, but all year round!
Find ways you can lower your usual bills, like finding better insurance rates.
Use services like Trim – a program that analyzes your spending and identifies recurring payments – and ask yourself if you want to keep the service or cancel it.
8. Stop eating out (or cut back)
Eating out and ordering food delivery adds up.
The average U.S. household spends as much as $3,000 a year eating out. Depending on where you order from, getting your food delivered can be five times as expensive as cooking at home.
From now until Christmas, look for opportunities to eat at home. Pack lunches. Fill your coffee thermos up at home. Challenge yourself to only eat food from the grocery store. Then, use the money you save to meet your Christmas savings plan goal.
9. Don’t buy for yourself
It’s tempting to treat yourself – especially when you see items you love discounted for holiday sales. However, gifting things to yourself will not only hurt your savings account, it’ll make you harder to shop for!
Make note of things you would like to buy yourself and pass your wishlist along to anyone buying you presents this year.
10. Host a gift swap
You’re not the only person looking for ways to save money this Christmas. Inflation is hitting everyone where it hurts, so help yourself and your friends!
Organize a Secret Santa, white elephant, or other gift swaps so everyone only has to bring one gift.
11. Set a spending limit
Ask loved ones to set a spending limit when it comes to gifts or at least make it clear that you have one. When you set a spending limit of $100 per person, you’ll hesitate to splurge on extra stocking stuffers.
12. Buy group gifts
Ask friends or family members to go in together on group gifts. You can purchase one really nice present for your parents rather than everyone overspending on several gifts your parents don’t want or need.
Similarly, consider reaching out to other parents in your child’s class to see about contributing toward one teacher’s gift.
13. Purchase generic gifts in bulk
There always tend to be a few extra people that show up on your need-to-buy-gifts-for lists, such as coworkers, mail delivery workers, and teachers.
When you see bulk items on sale, such as mugs filled with candy at big box stores or discounted gift cards, buy them for generic gifting.
14. Stash extra cash
From now until Christmas, take any extra money you receive and put it towards reaching your Christmas savings plan goal. This might be a Christmas bonus from work, an unexpected windfall, or even finding a quarter in the parking lot.
This holiday season, keep your finances intact and happy
The holiday season, especially Christmas, certainly brings our cash flow off balance, but we are here to help you and your finances. Budget for all of your holiday expenses and save money with our FREE checklist.
15. Lower your grocery bill
Another way to save some extra money during the holiday season is to stop buying name-brand food and give generic brands a try.
You can also make a point to “shop your pantry” before you head to the grocery store. Working with what you have not only lowers your grocery bill but helps reduce food waste.
16. Pause memberships or subscriptions
Many membership and subscription programs allow you to pause for a certain number of weeks or months.
For example, pause your Audible membership and use the money you usually spend on your monthly plan to meet your Christmas savings plan goal.
You can also ask family members to gift you these memberships, especially if you’re looking to decrease clutter in your home!
17. Use cash back apps
Use cash back apps like Ibotta when you’re shopping this season.
Ibotta gives you cash back on grocery store purchases by paying through the app, using the browser extension, or submitting a receipt.
They also allow you to earn free money at several popular retailers and receive cashback offers for certain products.
18. Never pay full price
Make it a mini-goal never to pay full price during the holiday season. With so many holiday sales, you can always find the item at some kind of discount. If there’s nothing up front, compare prices online.
19. Shop at discount stores for wrapping essentials
You can find wrapping essentials – like wrapping paper, tape, gift bags, tissue paper, and bows – for a steal at discount stores. Even larger stores like Target often have wrapping paper for just a dollar!
20. Get creative with gift cards
You can also look through your current stash of gift cards and see if there are any unused gift cards you can re-gift this year or use to shop.
21. Plan a potluck-style party
Hosting a meal for the holidays can get expensive. Instead, consider setting up a potluck-style Christmas dinner. It’ll save you some money and some stress – especially if you don’t have a very large kitchen!
22. Spend less on traditions
Look for more affordable ways to keep up your Christmas traditions, such as attending free events rather than buying tickets. Make new ornaments instead of buying them. Send your Christmas cards digitally instead of going through the mail.
You don’t have to scrap your traditions! Instead, modify them to be kinder to your wallet (and the planet).
23. Create a Christmas savings account for next year
One of the most effective ways to budget for the holiday season is to create a separate Christmas savings account that rolls over year to year.
Remember how you’d have to save $84 a week to have a $1,000 budget in the 12 weeks before Christmas? Well, when you start at the beginning of the year, you have 51 weeks. That means you’ll only have to save about $20 a week to have $1,000 by Christmas!
Setting yourself up for success early means you can be more flexible with your Christmas budget – without going into debt.
Here at Penny Calling Penny, our money saving articles are only a part of our growing library. We’re dedicated to helping you learn to manage your money, no matter where you’re at on your financial journey. Subscribe to our newsletter so you never miss a Penny, and we’ll see you next time!
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