Enjoying the holiday season without a budget blowout

Fred Wagenvoorde | 16 November 2023

Fred is a former professional triathlete who has a B.Com in Financial Management. He worked as an accountant before switching to financial planning and joining Fiscal Private Client Services.

The holiday season is fast approaching, and with it comes the excitement of festivities, gift-giving, and quality time spent with loved ones.

However, this joyful time of year can also be a financial challenge for many, with the pressure to buy gifts, host gatherings and decorate your home. To ensure you don't break the bank while spreading holiday cheer, it's essential to create a holiday budget, find affordable gifts and manage expenses wisely during this festive season.

A client, let’s call her Sarah, struggled to stick to a holiday budget. She loved giving her family and friends thoughtful gifts, but she often found herself overspending and going into debt.

Last year, we advised her to take a different approach – to use a smart strategy to enjoy her holiday season without stressing about her finances.


Creating a budget and setting expectations

We suggested Sarah start by creating a comprehensive holiday budget. She allocated a certain amount of money to each category of expenses, such as gifts, decorations, food and travel.

She also set gift expectations with her family and friends, agreeing to limit the value of gifts that would be exchanged.


Tracking spending and resisting temptation

We also suggested Sarah track her spending carefully throughout the holiday season. She used cash and debit cards as much as possible to avoid accumulating credit card debt. She also stuck to her list and avoided impulse purchases.

It wasn’t all plain sailing. Sarah was faced with a few challenges along the way. For example, she was tempted to buy expensive gifts for her loved ones, especially when out shopping in the malls.

She also had to learn to say no to social events to avoid situations where her spending would have exceeded her budget. However, Sarah was committed to her goal of sticking to her budget, and she found creative ways to save money. She made some of her own gifts and cooked more meals at home.

At the end of the holiday season, Sarah was thrilled to find that she had stayed within her budget. She had been able to find thoughtful gifts for her loved ones and enjoy all the festivities without stressing about her finances.


Enjoying the holidays without breaking the bank

Here are some tips that can help you navigate the many temptations to overspend during the holidays:

  • Shop early. Prices tend to go up as the holidays get closer, so start shopping early to find the best deals.

  • Compare prices. Don't just buy the first thing you see. Take the time to compare prices at different stores and online retailers to find the best deals.

  • Be creative. Don't be afraid to get creative with your gift-giving. Handmade gifts can be just as meaningful as bought gifts, and they're often more affordable.

  • Don't be afraid to say no. It's okay to say no to social events or gift exchanges that would exceed your budget.

The holiday season is a time to celebrate and connect with loved ones. By following Sarah's example and creating a budget, you can enjoy all the festivities without breaking the bank.