Personal Finance

5 Budget-Friendly Holiday Shopping Strategies

These tips will make you see less red and more green

Don Milne Dec 11, 2017

Article originally published on December 11, 2017 and refreshed on March 18, 2021.

According to American Research Group, the average American household will spend $851 for gifts this holiday season. If that fits your budget, great. But what if, like many people, you find that you don't have enough funds to buy everything you want?

The following ideas will help you to not overspend during the holidays.

1. Procrastinate! Some shoppers get a head start on Christmas by making purchases throughout the year. That gives you the most time to get the best deals, right? According to the American Research survey, those who waited until after mid-November to start shopping, spend 38 percent less than those who started shopping earlier.

A likely explanation is the more times you have an opportunity to spend money, the more you will spend — even if you are buying deals. This may be the one time where procrastination is a good thing. Don't shop today, if you can wait until tomorrow.

2. Use cash for stocking stuffers. Most stocking stuffer items are small-dollar items, so it is easy to buy more and more of them without realizing how much you are spending. A great way to keep stocking stuffer spending in line is to mark an envelope "Stocking Stuffers" and fill it with cash for all your planned stocking stuffer purchases. You will be much more careful with your money because you can easily track how much you are spending. When the envelope is empty, you're done. And don’t forget: oranges and apples are a classic, low-cost way to help fill stocking space!

3. Create service coupons. If you like spending time with your loved ones, why not turn it into a gift in the form of a coupon? What kid wouldn't like a coupon that says: "Free game night with mom," or "Dad helps you do a chore of your choice." Even grandparents can get into the coupon action. A "Free babysitting coupon" is sure to be a hit for all involved.

4. Sign up for reward programs. You know you’ll be spending money at the holidays, so why not leverage your purchase power? Consider using a credit card that offers a rewards program, such as the Zions Bank Vivid Rewards Visa® Credit Card* which allows you to earn rewards with every purchase and apply them toward any purchases made with your card.

5. Get crafty. A homemade gift carries more meaning than a store-bought one. After all, you spent your time to make it. It is a great opportunity to turn a talent into a gift that connects you with the recipient. Whether your talent is cooking, photography, crafts, carpentry or something else, you can make something that will be valued that does not cost a lot of money.

Maybe you have heard the saying "Christmas is the season when you buy this year's gifts with next year's money." Ouch.

This year, follow these tips to spend less and guess what? You'll have money to spend on all the after-Christmas sales!

*Credit cards are subject to credit approval. Terms, conditions and restrictions apply. See banker for details.

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