Stop Wasting Money – Holiday Edition

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Stop Wasting Money – Holiday Edition

Stop Wasting Money – Holiday Edition

infographic, Stop Wasting Money - Holiday Edition

Stop Wasting Money – Holiday Edition

No matter your financial situation, these ideas can benefit you. Wasting money is still a waste. Whether you are spending more than you can afford, or giving your kids more toys than they can play with, I hope to help you stop wasting money around the holidays.

I found some holiday stats that are a bit concerning.

Holiday Statistics

According to, 86.0% of Americans plan to purchase presents this year (2017). They plan to spend an average $663.96 each on gifts this year. Only 40% will rely solely on savings. The other 60% will pay partly with savings, or partly or wholly with credit, payday loans, personal loans, and/or borrowing from family/friends. Roughly 27.5 will pay solely with credit cards.

“A poll of 1,500 Americans…found that more than half (54.60%) expect to have a Christmas debt this year as a result of purchasing gifts, food, decorations, travel and other festive goods. That is an estimated 134 million American adults who will go into debt because of the holidays.” (

This is a whole lot of people spending more than they can afford!

Sadly, “It will take an average of 4.5 months to pay off their Christmas debt”, again, according to That is very UNwise, in my view.

I am going to give you a list of ideas on how to stop wasting money during the holidays. Hopefully, you find them useful. They are things I’ve done or seen close family or friends do.

Limited Budget

Short on cash or on a limited budget? These ideas can help you spend less money and live within your budget.

Stop right here and take a moment to think about last January. If you spent more money than you could really afford, how did you feel? Stressed? Regret?

Now, spend a moment thinking about how you would feel, if you spend only what you can afford. How you would feel? Would you feel bad about it, or good about it? Would you feel a sense of freedom? Proud of keeping a budget?

Bigger Budget

Do you have plenty of cash flow, and tend to overdo Christmas? You may be encouraging your kids or gift recipients to have an attitude of entitlement. With some of these ideas, you may be able to foster an appreciation for quality or for the true meaning of your holiday.

This is a great time of year to be generous, but so are the other 11 months of the year. I always wondered why December became the time of year that people are more prone to being more generous. Religious holidays don’t seem like a valid reason, to me. Generosity is best practiced all year!  This is especially apparent, as I work with a charity that helps people who need financial help.

My ideas on how to stop wasting money around the holidays

1. Set a budget!

This item is first, because it’s the most important one, in my opinion. You need to spend within your means, if you want to feel good about your finances, when January rolls around. I don’t understand people who spend like crazy, by putting everything on a credit card, then taking months to pay it off. No matter your religious beliefs, holidays aren’t about who can spend the most or buy the best gifts. This may be the best time of year to get serious about a budget. Even if you have a bigger budget, I think it’s good to set a budget and stick to it.

2. Downsize

If you have kids, limit the amount of money you will spend, according to your budget, and limit the # of items for each child. Talk with them beforehand, so they know to expect less. If your house is like ours, they have too much stuff, already! Are you short on space? Let them know they will have to give up some toys before the holidays, to make room for new stuff — I mean, toys.

3. Focus

Focus on gifts that are useful or helpful. The main gift, if buying more than one, would be something needed, then buy something that is a want. I love the meme that outlines 4 gifts for kids: one to wear, one to read, one they want, one they need.

4. Shop early and shop sales

We make use of the Black Friday sales, Small Business Saturday sales and the Cyber Monday sales, but we also buy or make things earlier than these sales. When do you start thinking and planning your holidays? We start thinking about Christmas gift ideas in September or October. If you plan to make gifts, you may need to plan and shop many months ahead of December. This also helps avoid the stress of last-minute shopping that so many people experience in the week before their holiday.

5. Quality

Talk to your kids about quality versus quantity. Show them examples of a better gift they could get, versus a bigger number of cheaper gifts. Ask them which they would rather have.

6. Get Experiential

Do your kids or gift recipients already have too much “stuff”? A gift of an experience is a great option.

7. Shared

Consider spending a portion, or all, of your overall holiday budget on a family gift that is shared. This could be a hot holiday, a shared computer, a shared gaming console, shared games.

8. Reduced price

Do you exchange with people outside of the immediate family? Consider talking to them about reducing the price of the gifts, or giving handmade gifts.

9. Make your own gifts

Here are links to two of my Pinterest boards, Gifts to Make and Gifts in Jars to get you started with ideas. I have a section for Christmas crafts in the Gifts to Make board, for pins that are specific to Christmas, but the whole board works for ideas, too.

10. Secret Santa

If you exchange with a bigger family group, talk to everyone about drawing one name each. Everyone buys one gift, instead of a bunch. This would allow for one larger gift, instead of a bunch of little ones. This encourages quality, instead of quantity.

11. Wish lists

Exchange wish lists, so everyone gets something they want and like. There can still be an element of surprise, since there are a number of gifts to choose from. Gifts can be packaged in a deceptive way, to make it more fun, too. It makes buying so much easier, and no one is disappointed with something that will just sit in a closet (or worse!) My husband and kids and I have done this for several years. We don’t want to waste money or disappoint. Sometimes, we buy something small that’s a total surprise, or something that we know the recipient will like, but forgot to put on their list. We do this with our nieces and nephews, too.

12. Kids only

Give gifts to kids only, no adults. Most of us have too much stuff, anyway.

13. Consumables

Exchange only consumable gifts with adults. This eliminates a build-up of clutter.January

14. Set money aside

On a tight budget? Start setting aside 1/12th of your anticipated budget in January. Carrying a credit card balance? Start saving, once you have that balance paid off. If it takes you 3 months to pay it off, then set aside 1/9th of your holiday budget each month.

15. Not just gifts

Do you plan to travel, entertain visitors, make special meals, bake, decorate, donate, or anything related to the holidays? Add it all to your overall budget. If you don’t know what you normally spend or what you spent last year, just make a good estimate. You could even overestimate, then you would have some leftover for an emergency. It might be a good idea to include New Year’s Eve, too, if you plan to do anything outside of your normal day to day budget.


I hope this list was useful and helped you find ways to stop wasting money during the holidays. I wish you peaceful, enjoyable holidays!

Please share your ideas in the comments. I would love to see more ideas!


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