Having a debt-free, frugal Christmas doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the holidays but it does mean you’ll have an enjoyable holiday without feeling broke.
When you’re mindful and intentional about your spending during Christmas you can have a frugal season and enjoy everything the holidays are meant to be about.
There are many ways you can save money during Christmas and have a very frugal season. In the video above I share my favorite frugal living tips for the holiday season and Christmas gift giving specifically.
Here are 33 more tips for you to have a frugal Christmas. If you’re wanting to save money on the holiday season, keep reading!
- Make a budget for your Christmas spending. Put a limit on your total spending for all things for the holiday season and commit to sticking to that dollar amount. Promise yourself that you won’t spend over the amount you’ve assigned to the holidays.
- Assign dollar amounts to each type of Christmas spending. Give yourself a firm budget for all the types of spending you might do. Going to buy decor? Set a strict budget. Buying Christmas presents? Give yourself a budget for gifts.
- Create a Christmas sinking fund in a high yield savings account and save up each paycheck in order to pay cash for Christmas. You’ll save less per paycheck if you start early but even a few paychecks before Christmas can make a difference.
- Make a commitment to a cash-only Christmas using only what you’ve saved in your sinking fund or can cash flow. Promise yourself you won’t be using credit to buy more than you can afford.
- Let everyone know you are committed to a cash only Christmas. Be open with all of your friends and family and let them know about your decision to have a frugal Christmas.
- Be prepared to say “no” when needed to additional spending when it is outside of your budget. If you can’t afford another holiday season excursion or special meal out, then be prepared to say no. Offer more frugal suggestions but be firm in your decision not to overspend.
- Manage your kids and family expectations by sharing what your budget is for gifts. If they are old enough, let your kids know what to expect based on the budget for the year.
- Choose a “shop for the kids only” rule with extended family gatherings. Buying for adults is unnecessary in most cases and children opening gifts will provide joy and savings to everyone.
- Do a White Elephant or Yankee Swap with friends or extended family or choose a fun game to play like the Saran Wrap game. This can be a fun experience together instead of trading expensive gifts.
- Give cookies or other baked goods and food items as presents. Most people love to get cookies or other delicious treats as gifts and all this takes is a bit of time and a small amount of money.
- Give a service or use a talent/skill/hobby as gifts instead of buying something. Use whatever you are naturally gifted at to offer as a gift.
- DIY your gifts for friends and family. There are lots of cute DIY gifts on Pinterest that are easy and delightful to receive.
- DIY your Christmas decorations by using what you already have or can scavenge outdoors and at thrift stores. Again, Pinterest and YouTube videos are your friend for DIY ideas!
- Use a fake Christmas Tree this year and for many years to come instead of buying a new fresh tree each holiday season. With a fake tree you only have to spend once and can get them very inexpensively with coupons and sales.
- Set a dollar limit on gift swaps and gift exchanges. If you’re doing a white elephant or drawing names or anything in a group then make sure to set a max dollar amount for your spending. During the price setting you can help guide the conversation to keep the price reasonable.
- Use the 4 gift rule for kids where they receive 4 gifts. 1 thing they want, 1 thing they need, 1 thing to wear, and 1 thing to read.
- Set aside a set amount of money for unplanned miscellaneous holiday expenses. Planning for the unexpected makes those unplanned expenses not strain your budget or cause any stress.
- Use coupons and sales to save money on your holiday meal shopping. During the holiday season many of the favorite items go on sale so use the opportunity to your advantage!
- Take advantage of your supermarket’s gift card promotions. You can buy gift cards at a discount or for major bonus fuel points. Combine that with a credit card cash back and Fetch rewards for even more savings and then give those cards as a gift or use them to save when buying other gifts.
- Use cash-back and reward apps like Ibotta, Checkout 51, SavingStar and Shopkick. For everything you buy you can receive cash back which adds up and allows you to have even more money to spend on Christmas.
- For online shopping, use Ebates for cash back and find store discounts by using RetailMeNot, Coupon Cabin, and Coupon Sherpa. Install Camel Camel Camel to track prices for things you may want to buy on Amazon to get the best price.
- Sign up for stores’ email lists to get a discount and download store apps to get coupons and further discounts. Most stores will offer coupons within their apps.
- Give gifts that meet a need and will be used throughout the year. For your family this is easy since you likely know what they need. If people ask what you want, request something you need and would buy anyway.
- Take advantage of post Christmas deals. Plan to buy yourself or your kids clothing after Christmas when clothing is deeply discounted for the season. Get all of your Christmas decor and wrapping paper for next year after Christmas when it’s 70-90% off.
- Gift coupons for future services or experiences. Things like making a family member dinner or giving parents a night of babysitting can be a wonderful gift to be redeemed in the future.
- Comparison shop before you purchase items to find the best prices. Take advantage of stores that have price-matching policies or lowest price guarantees to get the absolute best price on anything you want to buy.
- Consider buying used where you can or regifting things that you haven’t used. Not every gift has to be something new. Team up with family that’s also trying to be frugal and swap items the other will use.
- Use daily deal opportunities to get gifts at a much better prices. You can use flash sale sites like Fab.com, and Zulily and also browse Amazon’s Today’s Deals, Black Friday Deals, and Outlet Deals.
- Plan to use coupons and follow coupon sites like Living Rich with Coupons, Money Saving Mom, and Krazy Coupon Lady to find deals throughout the season. These sites are dedicated to finding coupons that will save you money. There are tons of sites and YouTube channels you can follow to find the best deals.
- Sign up for Amazon Prime’s free 30-day trial if you are not already a Prime member. You can take advantage of sales and free shipping during the holiday season.
- Plan your meals outside of your holiday meal. Prepping your meals can keep your wallet and health together during the holidays and stop you from heading to an expensive restaurant. You can use a service like $5 Meal Plan to eliminate stress of meal planning.
- Find ways to earn extra money on the side to afford the Christmas spending you want. If you want to spend more without dipping into debt then you need to earn more money to cover the difference. You can offer skills or services like dog walking or just sell unwanted clutter around the house to earn money for Christmas.
- Skip gifts altogether for Christmas this year. Think about doing a special activity together as a family or volunteering instead of buying gifts to give each other.
Remember that ultimately the holiday season is not about buying things or spending money. If you’re religious then it is one of the holy days and if you’re not then it’s a time to spend with loved ones. Find the reason for celebrating Christmas beyond consumption and you’ll be able to keep it frugal with no problem.
Remember that usually presents for Christmas are not life changing and you likely do not remember what you received last year. Focus on spending time with your loved ones and making memories together instead of items you’ll buy that will be quickly forgotten.
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Mary is the founder of Pennies Not Perfection where she shares her journey to build wealth through online income. She quit her day job in 2021 after she paid off her debt and doubled her 9-5 salary.
Mary's favorite free financial tool is Personal Capital. She uses their free tools to track net worth and work toward to financial freedom.