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7 Holiday Shopping Tips to Save Money on Your Wish List

Lauren Brown Updated: December 23, 2023 • 5 min read
christmas tree in shopping mall at christmas time

Key Points:

  • 48% of consumers are dreading the holiday season, specifically due to the costs associated with the holidays.

  • Maximize your budget and enjoy the season with minimal financial stress.

  • Discover how to make your holiday wish list more affordable, from budgeting strategies to money-saving tips for holiday shopping.

The holidays are here. For some, this is a joyous time. For others, though, it is quite the opposite. 48% of consumers are dreading the holiday season, specifically due to the costs associated with the holidays. While we may be unable to offer advice on dealing with your extended family dynamics, we have several holiday budgeting tips to help you participate in festive holiday gifts without overspending. Discover how to make your holiday wish list more affordable, from budgeting strategies to money-saving tips for holiday shopping.

Maximize your budget and enjoy the season with minimal financial stress.

Tip #1: Set a Holiday Budget

Regarding holiday shopping tips, one of the best strategies is setting a realistic budget using a budget planner. Adhering to a predetermined spending cap is crucial to avoid excessive spending and prevent post-holiday financial stress.

Start your holiday budgeting journey by reviewing your finances. Determine how much you can spend without dipping into your emergency savings or acquiring debt. Allocate specific amounts for presents, decorations, and events. This includes budgeting for holiday parties and their excess costs, such as transportation, new clothing, and food or drink expenses.

Once you have a well-thought-out budget, the next step is to follow it. Evaluate each purchase and consider using spending tracker apps to judge your expenses against your budget. This can ensure you stay on track throughout the season and beyond.

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Tip #2: Avoid Impulse Purchases

No list of holiday shopping tips is complete without discussing impulse buys. Purchasing an item not on your list may seem like a good idea at the time, but in reality, it will not help you maintain your budget.

When you create your wish list, make a detailed shopping strategy and adhere strictly to it. This approach ensures you only purchase what you have on your list and can afford. You may also want to use a spending tracker app to monitor your purchases in real-time. The immediate feedback can be a powerful deterrent against impulse buying, helping you remain focused on your financial goals amidst the festivities.

Tip #3: Utilize Smart Shopping Techniques

A little time mixed with a few strategic shopping techniques can significantly stretch your budget. For example, consider price comparison. This involves checking multiple stores or online platforms to find the best deals. Evaluating prices online and in-store can reveal surprising differences, so taking the time to do your homework can lead to excess savings.

You can also use cashback applications, credit card rewards, and online shopping portals for additional discounts. These options require a small amount of time but can add to extra savings on your shopping.

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Tip #4: Start Early to Make the Most of Holiday Sales

Start your shopping early to capitalize on sales. These include Black Friday sales and Cyber Monday discounts. This strategy allows you to take advantage of sale prices, avoid last-minute crowds, and prevent overspending as demand peaks and inventory dwindles.

To take advantage of early sales, research and identify the best savings opportunities. For example, many technology stores offer Black Friday discounts, while travel companies may have more extensive sales on Travel Tuesday, just two days later.

While sales can offer sizable discounts, it is still critical to stick to your budget. Try to resist the allure of buying just because something is on sale. This is the key to preventing overspending.

Tip #5: Maximize Savings With Coupons and Discounts

Save money for the holidays with coupons and discounts. Staying informed about special promotions and diligently applying discounts can help reduce the financial strain of the festive season.

Start by scouring websites and shopping portals for digital coupons and discount codes. Signing up for newsletters from different stores helps you access exclusive deals and promotions for upcoming sales. You can also ask local shop owners if you qualify for a discount on bulk purchases. Regardless of your approach, check if applicable coupons can reduce your total cost. This applied to both online and in-store purchases.

Tip #6: Creative Gifting Ideas

Creative gift-giving focuses on meaningful rather than expensive items. Consider handmade presents, which save money and offer a personal touch.

For example, you can give DIY crafts, baked goods, or a photo album as a cherished gift. You can also consider experience-based events, such as an outing or a home-cooked dinner, for a memorable present that does not exceed your budget. These ideas help emphasize the sentiment behind the gift rather than its price tag, aligning with the true spirit of this time of year.

Tip #7: Plan for Next Year’s Holiday Shopping

While an item may be outside your budget this holiday season, it does not mean you must cross it off your wish list forever. Instead, plan ahead. Begin to save money for the holidays now. Consider starting a dedicated holiday savings account early in the year, making the seasonal expenses less overwhelming by gradually putting money aside. You can consider making small, manageable contributions into this account each month, helping to boost your budget for next year.

Preparing in advance also means you can benefit from post-season sales to purchase substantially discounted holiday items like decorations or gifts for your loved ones. Consider watching for holiday sales, off-season deals, and discount shopping opportunities. This forward-thinking approach helps ensure you are better prepared financially for next year’s holidays.

How to Handle Post-Holiday Finances

  1. Acknowledge that it's early January, the festive season has ended, and you are back to your regular daily routine.
  2. Recognize any financial strain you might feel after the holidays, even if you followed holiday budgeting tips and smart shopping practices.
  3. If you have accumulated debt:
    • Prioritize debt management.
    • Consider debt consolidation strategies or securing a lower-interest-rate loan for high-interest debts, such as those on credit cards.
    • Develop a realistic repayment plan that aligns with your current income.
  4. For those who exceeded their holiday budget:
    • Evaluate your recent expenditures to understand where and why you might have overspent.
    • Use this reflection to identify spending patterns and areas for improvement.
  5. Begin preparing for the next holiday season:
    • Start saving early to amass funds for next year's holidays and avoid financial distress.
    • Set a budget for the next year based on your recent expense review and stick to it.


Embracing these seven-holiday shopping tips can transform your festive season into a stress-free (or at least less stressful!) experience. From setting a budget and resisting impulse purchases to getting creative with gifts and preparing for the future, each strategy helps contribute to a more affordable time of year. Strategic planning and smart shopping are crucial to making your holiday wishes come true without compromising your financial health.



How do I stick to my holiday budget?

To adhere to your holiday budgeting plan, list all expected costs, including gifts, decorations, and events. Consider prioritizing your purchases and tracking your expenses using a spending tracker app. Avoid impulsive shopping by sticking to your list and considering each purchase carefully. You can also benefit from holiday sales and other smart shopping discounts.

Are post-holiday sales worth it for saving money?

Yes, post-holiday sales can be an excellent opportunity to save money, especially for items you need throughout the year. Look out for discounts on the past season’s decorations, clothing, and electronics. To avoid unnecessary spending, be sure to buy only the items you actually need.

What should I do if I overspent during the holidays?

If you have fallen into the trap of overspending, the first step is to assess the damage by reviewing your bank and credit card statements. Next, create a debt management plan focusing on high-interest loans like credit cards. Lastly, adjust your upcoming monthly budgets to account for additional interest and debt repayment costs. You can also try to reduce non-essential purchases to make up for your excess spending throughout the holiday season.

Written by Lauren Brown linkedin-icon

Lauren has over a decade of experience in wealth management and financial planning. She is a CFA charterholder and holds a Bachelor's degree in Finance. Lauren has worked with several asset management firms, offering wealth advisory and portfolio management services to high-net-worth clients.