Saving Money During the Holidays

The holiday season is often associated with joy, love, and warmth. But let’s be real, it can also bring added financial stress! With all the gifts, parties, and travel expenses, it’s easy to overspend and end up with a hefty credit card bill come January. But fear not St. Louis! We’ve got you covered with some tips on how to save money during the holidays without sacrificing any of the holiday spirit.

Create a Budget

Create a budget for holiday spending and do your best to stick with it. Having spending limits will help keep you from overspending. Instead of going on a shopping spree with no guidance, make a list of the people you want to buy gifts for and the gifts you plan to give them. This will not only help you stay organized but also prevent impulse purchases that may break your budget. If you need some help creating a budget, we’ve got a blog post that can help! If you want more direct, personalized help with creating a budget, sign up for financial coaching and one of our financial coaches can support you in that process! Remember that a budget is only helpful if you’re honest about your spending and committed to sticking with it. We’ll all mess up every once in a while, and that’s OK! But the more you can stick with your spending limits, the more stress-free your holidays will be.

Shop for Deals

‘Tis the season for sales and promotions! Keep an eye out for discounts, coupons, and special deals when doing your holiday shopping. You can find great bargains on Black Friday or Cyber Monday but don’t forget to compare prices and shop around to ensure you’re getting the best deal. Facebook Marketplace, thrift stores, and local yard sales can be great ways to find hidden gems for a cheaper price. Websites like and will have deals and coupons at a variety of stores, and websites like Rakuten give you cash back on purchases you’re already making! You can also consider joining loyalty programs or signing up for store email lists to receive exclusive offers.

But be extra mindful of the in-store offers to open a credit card. These store-specific credit card offers might save you money at the moment but could hurt your credit score and wallet in the long run. Opening a new credit card means another “hard” inquiry on your credit report and another account to affect your length of credit history–both of which can hurt your credit score. And, oftentimes, these store credit cards have very high APRs, so the money ‘saved’ is usually less than what you’ll end up paying in interest! It’s best to just, kindly, say ‘no’ at the checkout.

DIY Decorations and Gifts

Who says you have to buy decorations to be in the holiday spirit? And who says you have to buy expensive gifts to show your love and appreciation? Get creative and make some homemade decorations and gifts for your loved ones! This can save you money and add a personal touch to your presents, often making them more meaningful. For ideas on homemade gifts, use websites like Instructables and Pinterest or you can even browse TikTok.

Have a Secret Santa

One fun and cost-effective holiday tradition is the Secret Santa gift exchange. This is when a group of people each draw a name from a hat or bowl and buy a gift for the person they draw, instead of buying gifts for everyone in the group. It not only reduces the number of gifts you need to buy, but it also adds an element of surprise and excitement to the gift-giving process. Just make sure to set a reasonable price limit for the gifts to keep it fair and affordable for everyone involved. If you want to make Secret Santa even easier, try using the Elfster Secret Santa generator. It will compile the names of the participants together, randomly assign folks, and allow you to create a wish list.

Prepare for or Limit Your Travel

Traveling during the holidays can be quite expensive, especially with peak season prices. When possible, consider celebrating at home or plan a local day trip instead. If traveling is unavoidable, look for ways to save, such as booking well in advance, traveling on off-peak days (Tuesday and Wednesday) and at off-peak times (early morning and late at night), or using reward points. If you need to fly, try sites like Skyscanner to find the cheapest prices. But, keep in mind, buses and trains can be cheaper alternatives to flying. Remember, the joy of the holidays is in spending quality time with loved ones, regardless of the location!

Talk About It!

The common thread of all our suggestions above is that you need to talk about the holidays with whoever is involved…your partner, your family, and/or yourself! When you talk openly and honestly about your expectations and limits, you can avoid stress, frustration, and hurt feelings. Remember, setting boundaries is healthy and important for your financial well-being. So go ahead, start the conversation!

With these tips, you can still enjoy the holiday season without breaking the bank. Remember, it’s not about how much money you spend, but the quality time spent with loved ones that truly matters. By being mindful of your expenses and making thoughtful choices, you can focus on making cherished holiday memories instead of worrying about holiday debt. Happy holidays and happy saving, St. Louis!