image How to Maintain Your Budget During the Holiday Season

How to Maintain Your Budget During the Holiday Season

It’s hard enough to maintain a budget during the non-Holiday months – where do you start with budgeting for things like presents, parties, feasts, and vacations?

In reality, a holiday budget isn’t that different from a regular budget. Here are some tips for making one and sticking to it with little stress:

Start a running list of all additional expenses the holidays bring about. Include all the bits and bobs: gifts, wrapping paper, gift bags, secret Santa exchanges, wine or food for Holiday parties, a yearly trip, donations to charity, and stocking stuffers.

You may remember additional expenses over the course of the day as you make this list, so be sure to write them all down. This will give you an accurate idea of how much extra money you spend during the holidays.

Set a Limit on Your Spending

To decide how much you can spend on holiday-related things, look at your overall budget and how much income you’ll have coming in. Ideally, you’llalready have been setting money aside during the year to cover holiday expenses. If you have, do not go over this amount.

If you get particularly trigger-happy with a credit card, opt for cash instead. This will keep you from overspending.

Allocate Money to Each Expenditure Type

Let’s look at an example of how you might allocate money. If you have $600 to work with, you’ll need to assign a portion of it to each type of expenditure. For example, you could assign:

  • $150 for family gifts
  • $100 for friend gifts
  • $100 for a big, home-cooked holiday dinner
  • $25 for stocking stuffers
  • $20 for gift wrap
  • $5 for Holiday party brownies
  • $200 for a family trip

By setting these limits, you can work within a set of constraints and move extra money between categories when needed.

Plan out Your Presents

The Internet makes it easy to price out what you’re going to buy each person. Make a list of what you’re getting people and stay within your budget. Take advantage of Black Friday pricing to get more bang for your buck.

Track Expenses to the Penny

Your budget next year will be easier if you have accurate holiday expenses from the previous year. Keep a running tab at all times. This could be as simple as a note with expenses for each category or as robust as a spreadsheet that sums up expenses for you.

Consider an Extra Job Around the Holidays

Whether it’s decorating wreaths or helping at a seasonal store, there is plenty of extra work around the holidays. Taking on another job can help you cover your expenses and even bring home a little extra.


Caldwell, Miriam. “Making A Holiday Budget.” The Balance, 2019,