Skip to main content


map-marker-altLocations | ATMs

Top 15 Holiday Savings and Budgeting Tips

Looking for ways to save during the holidays? It is that time of year - lights are out, decorations are up, and many of us will be buying gifts for loved ones. But, holiday spending has a price. Last year Americans spent close to $1,500 just on gifts! That figure doesn't include décor, food for parties, or holiday attire. If you're not careful, the holiday debt hangover can hit with a vengeance. Cutting back and staying on top of your spending just makes sense. We've got tips to help you cut back and make sure you set your future self up for success! After all, your finances need to come before gift giving, and true friends will understand if that means no gift this year.

Money tied in string and holiday gift tag saying "This is my year to save!"
  1. Review Your Gift List: dropping the number of gifts you buy is the easiest way to save money, time, and your sanity during the holidays. Make a list of everyone that you're planning to buy gifts for, and then try to take off a few names. Instead of buying each of your kids' teachers a gift, could you get them something for Teacher Appreciation Day instead? That happens on May 8, giving you plenty of time to fit it into your budget.
  2. Set Boundaries Around Gift Giving: buying for a big family can get expensive! If you can, buy just for the kids and ask your family if they want to do a gift exchange so you only need buy for one adult. As an added bonus, this is built-in entertainment at your holiday party if you're playing a gift game where you can “steal” someone else's gift. When it comes to your friend group, set expectations with them so they don't expect a gift—true friends understand that your finances come first.
  3. Stick to Your List: the holiday season is full of generosity, but it's also full of overspending. It's tempting but do your best to stick to your list so you don't blow your budget.
  4. Reduce, Reuse, Regift: if your friends love your sense of style, why not share it? There's nothing wrong with regifting, just be careful not to regift to the person who gave it to you!
  5. Go for Potluck Parties: hosting a crowd this year? Instead of providing all the food and drinks, ask guests to contribute a side or an appetizer. This way, you'll be able to get a taste of what they enjoy during the holidays. Go for veggies instead of meat and cheeses or host a breakfast or brunch party with a juice or coffee bar instead of alcohol.
  6. Holiday Budgeting: this is a big one—set an overall budget and stick with it. Then, once you know who you're buying for, think about how much you'll spend on each person. It doesn't have to be equal, but it does help to have a number in mind when you're looking for a gift. For more general budgeting tips, read our article Getting Your Finances on Track.
  7. Savings Tips: Sometimes planning ahead is the best option. Although that doesn't help this year, you can set yourself up for success next year and set aside a small amount each month so you can be ready when the holidays roll around again. WaFd Bank offers savings and money market accounts that requires just a $25 initial deposit to open.
  8. Find a Great Deal: if you see something at a great price and have enough to buy it, grab it while you can. This way you can save money on something you were already planning on buying.
  9. Shop Throughout the Year: this is probably the hardest to put into practice, but it does make things much easier when the holidays come around and you only need to shop for a few people instead of 20 or more.
  10. Factor in All Costs: this includes paying for gift wrap or bags as well as any shipping fees. If you don't already, think about saving the bags you receive so you can reuse them next year or find enough gifts to buy from the same company to get the free shipping. This way you'll also be able to cross off a few names from your list.
  11. Go DIY: as they say, homemade comes from the heart. If you love crafting or baking, this is your time to shine, even if you're not the best at it. Your loved ones will appreciate the time you put into it, and at the very least you'll both have a great time talking about your Pinterest fail for years to come!
  12. Price Check: Always double check, at least for the big items on your list. While this can get time consuming, it's a free way to save money—you never know, you might save more than you think.
  13. Buying at the Right Time: don't fall for ads saying "doorbuster". Often, prices advertised during Black Friday or Cyber Monday aren't all that different from regular holiday sales.
  14. Avoid Shopping Sprees: this is a big one, and towards the end of your shopping trip you could be pretty tired and won't want to take the effort or time it takes to price check and make sure you're really getting a good deal. Instead, buy for two or three people at a time so you don't get overwhelmed or exhausted.
  15. Go Thrifting: you never know, you might find a treasure you know someone would love. If your loved one is a collector of sorts, this is a great way to get them something they probably don't have without spending a lot of money on auction sites like eBay.
Want help managing your money?

No question is too small! Visit your local branch or call us at 800-324-9375 to learn more or open an account. Interested in opening a savings account to put away money throughout the year for holiday spending? WaFd Bank's savings account requires just a $25 initial deposit to open($10 for those under age 18).