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  • Writer's pictureSarah Carlson

How to Not Overspend This Holiday Season

The holidays are a joyous time of year, but for many of us, they’re also a time of stress—particularly when it comes to our finances. If you’re worried about overspending this holiday season, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

In fact, 1 in 3 Americans have said they spent too much money during the holidays. But there is good news! With a little bit of planning and preparation, it is possible to stay within your budget and still enjoy all the holiday festivities. Here are a few tips to help you avoid overspending this holiday season.

1. Make a Budget and Stick to It

The first step to not overspending is to create a budget and stick to it. Determine how much you can realistically spend on gifts, travel, food, and other holiday-related expenses, and then make sure you don’t exceed that amount. It helps to create a holiday spreadsheet to review each of your purchases. This way, you can easily track your spending and ensure that you don’t go over your budget.

2. Shop Early and Take Advantage of Sales

Another great way to save money is to start your holiday shopping early and take advantage of sales. By shopping early, you can spread out your expenses over a longer period of time and avoid the last-minute rush (and associated expenses). Many stores also offer great deals and discounts leading up to the holidays, so be sure to keep an eye out for those as well.

3. Set Realistic Expectations

It’s also important to set realistic expectations for yourself and your loved ones when it comes to gift giving. Remember that the holidays are about spending time together, not about how much money you spend on gifts. Instead of buying expensive gifts that will just end up collecting dust, try making homemade gifts or give experiences instead (like tickets to a show or a gift certificate for a day at the spa). These types of gifts are often more meaningful anyway and won’t break the bank.

4. Avoid Using Credit Cards if Possible

If you do use credit cards this holiday season (which can help you rack up rewards points), be sure to pay off your balance in full each month to avoid interest charges. It’s also important to remember that just because you have access to credit doesn’t mean you have to use it—try using cash so you don’t end up spending more than you can afford long after the holidays are over.

5. Don't Forget about Other Expenses

Finally, don’t forget about other holiday-related expenses like travel costs, tipping your delivery driver or dog walker, or hostess gifts if you’re attending a party. Be sure to factor these items into your budget as well so you don’t find yourself overwhelmed (and in debt) come January 1st.


The holidays are supposed be a time of joy—not stress—so don’t let your finances ruin all the fun! By following these simple tips, you can avoid overspending this holiday season and still enjoy all the festivities with family and friends.

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