How to Stretch Your Christmas Budget

How to Stretch Your Christmas Budget
  • Opening Intro -

    Families desiring to celebrate Christmas with all the trappings, know that this most festive of all holidays comes at a cost.

    That cost includes gifts for family and friends, as well as decorations, food and entertainment.


Quite easily, you can bust your budget, especially if you rely upon credit cards to cover some of those expenses. You can stretch your Christmas budget further this year. Here is how to do it.

1. Set a price. Likely, you have an idea of what you and your family can spend this Christmas. Calculate that cost and make everyone promise to stay within it at all costs. For example, if your budget is $800, then spending $801 is simply not acceptable.

2. Pay cash. Paying with cash will ensure that you stay within your budget. Cash is not possible when buying online, so use a debit card and track these costs as you go. If you must use a credit card, then immediately set that money aside to pay that bill or transfer money from your savings to your checking and make that payment promptly.

3. Make an agreement. If your family has been exchanging gifts with aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews for years, initiate a new gift giving arrangement. Instead of buying multiple smaller gifts, buy one larger and more expensive gift for just one individual. Put names in a hat at Thanksgiving and each person will select a piece of paper with the recipient’s name and gift suggestions. Cap the amount that can be spent, such as at $50 or $100, and reduce your gift-giving costs across the board.

4. Track everything. That $800 budget can disappear quickly. That is why you will need to write down everything that you need to buy for the Christmas season and allocate your funds accordingly. For instance, you might set aside $40 for a tree. Another $60 for plants and decorations. About $100 can cover your Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners. About $160 may cover the cost of a Nutcracker or A Christmas Carol play, leaving $440 for gift buying. If the amount for gifts is not enough, you need to cut back somewhere or raise your budget accordingly.

Shopping Considerations

Keep an eagle-eye out for bargains online as well as at local retailers. Black Friday is always an opportune time to find deals as is Cyber Monday. Stay within your budget and you’ll have the merriest of Christmases without the January over spending regrets to deal with later.


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Categories: Consumer Tips

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".