6 Tips for Budgeting During the Holidays

by MaryAnne Gangoy

Chief Operations Officer


Finding Full Joy and Keeping a Full Wallet

Originally published in the November/December 2023 issue of WakeLiving Magazine.

It’s that wonderful time of year when we all gather with family and friends, exchange gifts, and soak up our favorite festivities. No matter the holiday you and your family plan to enjoy this season, we hope it’s full of joy.

Unfortunately for many of us, that joy comes with financial stress. Nothing spoils holiday cheer like the stress that can come with unexpected or unplanned holiday expenses.  As you plan for that Secret Santa party, prep for big family meals, and wrap gifts for loved ones these tips will help you make it through the season with your budget intact.

1.Review Last Year’s Spending

The best way to create a solid budget for your holiday season is looking at last year. This will give you a baseline to work from, find areas where you can spend less, and give you an idea of what to expect.

You can even make a game of it! If last year’s holiday expenses were $2,000, make a goal to only spend $1,500 this year.

2. Shop From a List, Look for Deals, and Avoid Impulse Purchases

One easy way to blow your budget is to forget to plan. When you have an idea for each person on your gift list, you can shop around for deals and avoid making last-minute purchases. Especially during this time of year, stores are designed specifically to entice you into extra purchases. Don’t give in! Stick to that list and stay on track.

3. Think About Non-gift Expenses

The holidays don’t just come with gift purchases. There are decorations, special meals with long ingredient lists, travel, and even a cute new outfit or two. Luckily, these are easier areas to cut back on spending. Look for free festivities to enjoy in your community. Do a potluck-style meal instead of hosting an entire party yourself.

Decide on the amount of money you can spend on unplanned parts of the holidays and stick to it.

4. Track, Track, Track

When it comes to budgets, you can’t set it and forget it. As you’re party planning or knocking out your gift list, make sure to track your progress against your set budget and make adjustments to keep yourself from going over.

This is where it will come in handy to cut back on certain areas if you end up going over your allotted budget for particular items.

5.Think Ahead to 2024

An easy thing to forget when budgeting for the holidays is January and February. Even if you’ve avoided charging purchases to a credit card or dipping into savings, bills, and expenses for the beginning of the year are right around the corner. Make sure to keep this in mind while crafting your list of expenses so that you’re not in a bind come January 2nd

6. Utilize Your Financial Partner

From financial planning and budgeting to setting up a savings account and paying off credit cards, look to your financial partners for guidance. Coastal Federal Credit Union and other not-for-profit credit unions put the interests of members first instead of Wall Street. Coastal has tools available to help you and can identify the best vehicles to manage debt and plan for future goals. Tap into those resources to help make the best decisions possible with your income, limit the stress of holiday expenses, and save for the things that are most important to you.

And most importantly, have a wonderful holiday season!


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