Sense & Centsibility Blog

Take Control of Your Holiday Spending

Piggy bank wearing santa hatIt is amazing how easy it is to go way overboard during the holidays. We all tell ourselves, I am not going to over spend, over eat, or over commit but sure enough we find ourselves way beyond the limits we set for ourselves.

However, part of the holiday magic is the ability to completely justify to ourselves what we are doing while we are doing it…yet in the end we pay the price (usually in the form of the January Credit Card Statement).

I know, I know,” It’s the Holidays” there will be some over indulgence.  But why not try and prepare the best you can! Here are some ideas to keep the overall holiday season from busting your budget.

Make your holiday budget

When we think about a holiday budget we almost always think about gifts. How much can I spend on each person on my list? Making a gift budget is really helpful when it comes deciding how much to spend on each person in your life.

However, gifts are only a part of what we spend over the holidays. Consider other expenses when making your budget.

  • Artificial Christmas TreeFood: Are you preparing a big meal? Or bringing food to a potluck?
  • Travel: Are you flying somewhere? Or driving? Can you stay with family or friends or are you hotel bound?
  • Boarding Pets: What are you going to do with Fido? Can you bring your pets with?
  • Decorations: Do you buy a real tree? Or do you have an artificial tree in storage?
  • Holiday cards and postage: How many cards do you send out every year?
  • Donations: Do you donate to any charities over the holidays? Maybe a toy drive or food drive?
  • Work Expenses: Are you part of a Secret Santa? Cookie Exchange?

The kids will love it

Gifts for the kids can be hard to resist and if you get that little extra something for one child you have to make sure that you balance it with another little something for the other(s) and it can easily snowball out of control. I found the best saying on Pinterest to keep shopping for children in perspective. Here goes…

"Something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read." ~anonymous.

What a great way to put shopping for children into manageable boundaries. This will be my motto when shopping this year. Bonus- studies have shown time and again that children get longer lasting enjoyment from experiences vs. material objects. So if you haven’t already, now is a great time to start your family’s Holiday traditions, because memories last a lifetime.

couple exhausted from holiday shoppingStart shopping early

Nothing forces you to spend more than you want than shopping at the last minute. If you are in a rush to find the perfect thing for someone, you will eventually get to the point where you will ignore the price in order to get the job done. If you give yourself enough time, you can shop around for the right gift at the right price. This will also make shopping a lot less stressful.

Making gifts isn’t just for the crafty

There are endless handmade gift ideas that range from difficult to very easy. I have found gift ideas for my children’s teachers and childcare providers that even I can do. Which is a proof that there is something for every skill level out there. The gifts turned out beautifully and the kids were able to help. Not only were the gifts well received but the kids were so proud of the gifts they made. Places to find just some of the many gift ideas are and In addition to the benefit of making gifts there are so many fun do-it-yourself decoration ideas. Gifts and decorations are two areas where you can save some major money this holiday season. You never know…you just might surprise yourself.

LSS is dedicated to your financial wellness this holiday season

  • Visit our blog. Ask questions. Email us at We are here to help!
  • Check out our resources, financial calculators and testimonials on our website.
  • Set up an appointment with us and learn how to budget to save for your future. Call 888.577.2227.
  • Consolidate your debt with a DMP into one monthly payment--often with a lower interest rate and start paying off those debts faster.

Author Ashley Hagelin is a Financial Counselor at LSS and specializes in Reverse Mortgage Counseling.