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Holiday Budgeting Tips: 8 Ways to Avoid Overspending This Holiday Season

Holiday spending is expected to grow by 3-4% this year, for a total of $966.6 billion. Whatever your share of that spending may be, the holiday season can cause financial stress for everyone. From hosting family gatherings and parties to buying gifts and decorations, it’s easy to get caught up in the seasonal busyness and blow past your budget. In this article, we’ll offer eight ways to avoid overspending on gifts, food and drink, travel, and more.

1. Estimate Your Expenses

In order to create a budget for the upcoming holiday season, you need to have an accurate idea of your expenses. If you don’t already, consider logging your holiday spending each year so you have real data to use. Or check last year’s bank and credit card statements to calculate holiday expenses. If neither of these approaches are an option for you, use Gallup’s prediction of $923 in holiday spending per person. If you find that you spend less or more than that, you can adjust your budget for next year.

Feel free to get as detailed with your holiday budget as you want to. You could divide your budget into categories such as gifts, decorations, parties, and travel. Or you could list each person on your gift list and set an individual limit for each. It may help to research prices, such as for Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, for items you already know you want to buy.

2. Track Your Spending

Once your holiday budget is set, don’t forget to log each purchase to ensure you stay on track. You can use our free MoneyTracker tool to set a budget and track your spending–all with a helpful visual. You can also opt in for fraud alerts, which unfortunately tend to rise this time of year with charitable giving scams, fake listings for in-demand gifts, and more.

Tracking your holiday spending with our MoneyTracker tool will also capture the data you need to accurately budget for the next holiday season.

3. Reduce Spending In Other Discretionary Categories

If you’re feeling pinched by inflation and aren’t sure where the money for holiday expenses will come from, look for other areas where you can reduce spending. For example, according to a recent survey, the average American spends about $18,000 annually on non-essential expenses such as cable and streaming services, dining out, subscription boxes, and more. Even if it’s just temporary, cutting back on non-holiday discretionary spending will free up money for your seasonal expenses.

4. Take Part in Free Holiday Fun

As much as possible, look for free or inexpensive ways to enjoy the season. For example, Northern Michigan towns along the lake shore offer plenty of free holiday activities to enjoy with your family. Check local listings for events like tree lighting ceremonies, visits with Santa, light displays, and parades. Go shopping on Small Business Saturday for special deals from your favorite local businesses.

When it comes to New Year’s Eve, you don’t have to be in NYC to witness the excitement of a ball drop. Watch the CherryT Ball Drop in Traverse City on New Years Eve. For just $5 per person, you can have fun ringing in the new year and also support local charities like Goodwill, Northern Michigan, and Northwest Food Coalition. If you’d rather stay on your couch with hot chocolate, you can watch a live stream of the CherryT Ball drop on the UpNorthLive Facebook page.

5. Get Creative With Gift Giving

The same thing goes for gifts. The amount you spend isn’t a reflection of your love for a person. Reduce your overall spending on gifts by looking for opportunities to give homemade presents. Lower the number of people you’re buying for by suggesting a Secret Santa gift exchange.

6. Host a Volunteer Day

Instead of a party, why not celebrate the holidays in a more meaningful way and save money while you’re at it? Bring your friends and family together for a volunteer day to spread holiday cheer with the whole community. Local volunteer opportunities include:

7. Take Advantage of Rewards

Did you know you can earn Extra Awards® points by using your West Shore Bank debit card? Our Interest Secure Checking account also offers discounts and rewards on shopping, travel, and leisure that can help you save on holiday gifts and travel. Shopping with a rewards credit or debit card can help you save money on holiday purchases, while offering a convenient way to track your overall spending. Paying by card can also protect you from fraud.

8. Open a Christmas Club Account

While it may be too late to save money for this holiday season, there’s always next year. Open a Christmas Club account to save for the holidays all year round. You’ll earn interest on your balance and funds become available in November. Early withdrawals will incur a fee, which can help you set aside money for the holidays only, so it doesn’t get spent on other needs or wants through the year.

Committed To Helping You Improve Your Financial Well-being

Founded in 1898, West Shore Bank is here to help make a real difference in your life. This is true year-round, but at the holidays we have a tradition of coming together to help our community. Our  “Giving November” fundraiser supports a variety of non-profits along the lake shore in the six counties we serve. Offering both valuable banking services and community support, we remain committed to helping the people and businesses in Michigan attain financial well-being.  Open a Christmas Club account to get ready for next year’s holiday season!

piggy bank with Santa Claus hat next to a calculator and a miniature tree with a sticky note that says "Budget"

Excerpt for Holiday Budgeting Tips: 8 Ways to Avoid Overspending This Holiday Season

Eight ways to avoid overspending on gifts, food and drink, travel, and more.