Have you bought all your holiday gifts? Many Americans have a tight holiday budget this year thanks to high inflation and layoffs across many industries, not to mention the 63% of Americans who live paycheck to paycheck. If you haven’t completed your shopping list, we have some tips for gift-giving with a tight holiday budget.
Be Realistic and Honest
Having a tight budget during the holidays can be a bummer, but getting yourself into deep financial debt over gift-giving won’t make you feel bright or cheery either. To avoid any awkward encounters, and to alleviate the pressure on yourself, set realistic expectations with friends and family. If you can’t give a gift to someone you usually exchange gifts with, give them a heads up.
If you feel comfortable, you could let them know that money is tighter this year, and while you would love to give them a gift, you can’t afford it. If you’d rather not share the details of your financial situation, you could just let them know you are focusing on the kids this year or your direct family and that you don’t expect a gift from them this year.
Instead of a store-bought gift, you could give those on your extended list homemade gifts that cost less like baked goods.
Create a Holiday Budget and Stick to It
Look at your overall budget and determine how much money you can spend on gifts this year, then hold yourself accountable for that budget. Spend only what your budget allows. Keep track of what you spend and how much you have left. Keeping a spreadsheet can help.
Set spending limits by person. Some people prioritize children during the holidays, so you might want to dedicate more money to the children in your life.
Cut Back on Non-Essential Spending
If you have a large holiday shopping list, consider cutting back on other non-essential spending to free up more funds. You could cut back on dining out, travel, entertainment, and other discretionary spending to leave you with enough money to cover your holiday budget.
Always Comparison Shop and Look for Deals
When you have a tight holiday budget, it is imperative that you leverage all the money saving tools at your disposal. That includes money saving or deal tracking apps, coupons, promotions, comparison shopping, price matching, and more. Never buy something without looking for coupons and comparing the item at multiple stores or online retailers.
Avoid Impulse Shopping
It can be tempting to window shop during the holidays. Sales and promotions can be quite tempting, but if you are on a tight holiday budget, try to avoid stores unless they have something on your shopping list. Don’t go into a store without your list, and make sure to only buy what’s on there unless you find a cheaper alternative.
Consider Alternatives to Individual Gifts
Buying for each person on your list can get really expensive quickly. Instead, consider a gift that can be enjoyed by an entire family. For example, instead of buying a family of four each a gift, you could buy them a board game that could be enjoyed by the whole family. Instead of purchasing gifts for each of your friends, invite them over for dinner or dessert. In some cases, cooking dinner or baking treats for your friends is cheaper than buying each one a gift.
The holidays are an expensive time that can be financially overwhelming. Don’t let the pressure of gift-giving get you into high-interest debt. Be upfront with your loved ones about your tight holiday budget. Set realistic expectations and avoid holiday guilt. Cut back on non-essential spending and set a realistic holiday budget you can stick to. Comparison shop and hunt for the best deals. Avoid impulse shopping and stick to your list. Consider alternative gifts and reduce spending overall. Not all of these tips work for everyone, but even following a few that work for you will help you save money this holiday season.