Collins Community Credit Union

Four Ways to Save on Gifts this Holiday Season

It’s easy to be enchanted by the seasonal magic of shopping malls and outlet stores: photos with Santa and his little elves, kiosks with peppermint hot chocolate, and colorful signs displaying one-time-only deals and discounts - all under the warm glow of twinkly lights.

Published on Oct 25, 2023

But these small, festive purchases here and there add up quickly and don’t even include some of the costs you may forget about while planning your holiday gifting budget, like wrapping paper, shiny bows or shipping costs for out-of-state family and friends.

Spending money during the holidays is inevitable, but thinking about the looming debt you could face in the new year may be enough to turn you into Ebenezer Scrooge. You don’t have to start 2024 with buyer’s remorse and a wallet full of maxed out credit cards. With these tips, you can shop smart and fully enjoy the joyous spirit of the holidays, without residual regret in January.


Instead of making a list of all the people you would like to buy gifts for, first decide how much you can afford to spend. A good rule of thumb is to spend no more than 1% of your combined household earnings on presents. For example, if your annual household income is $80,000, plan to spend less than $800 on gifts. Take time to review your overall finances and see what makes sense for your family to spend on holiday gifts this year, then assign a dollar limit per person on your shopping list. While it’s tempting to grab a couple Starbucks gift cards or withdraw a few extra $20 bills at the ATM for co-workers, service staff, or last-minute Secret Santa gifts, it’s important to maintain the budget you’ve outlined so you’re not forgoing your normal monthly financial obligations. If you would still like to thank your postman or dog walker, write a handwritten note expressing your gratitude, then review your yearly budget to see if you could surprise them with a token of your appreciation during another time of the year, such as March.


Most stores have signs in their windows or on their websites that promote deeply discounted products, but it’s usually a gimmick that gets you to buy something you weren’t originally planning to purchase. Sales that promise to save more when you buy more will compromise your budget if you didn’t need three balsam and spruce candles in the first place. Be sure to bring your budget and shopping list with you so you’re not tempted to deviate from your plans. Conversely, some retailers offer steep deals the day or two before Christmas since they want to move their inventory, so if you can wait until the last minute to pick out your presents or stocking stuffers without breaking your budget, you could save a significant amount of money.


With email, text messages from friends, and games in the palm of your hand, it’s easy to get distracted by your phone or laptop. This holiday season, power down your laptop and stow away your phone for uninterrupted quality time with family, friends, or neighbors. Chances are, your relatives and pals will understand and respect your financial decision to skip presents and will be thankful to have your presence instead. Together, you can take a long walk to marvel at the lights, work on a puzzle, go caroling, make a batch of sugar cookies, or watch a holiday movie.


Santa can deliver treats and toys all over the world in one night, but for the rest of us, we often times have to rely on delivery and shipping services which can add extra expense. Remember to allocate funds in your budget to mail packages to far-away loved ones or to ship items to your home from online retailers - all those shipping fees add up quickly. To avoid overspending and paying excessive fees for expedited shipping, plan to ship your packages by December 14, and watch for online promotions that offer free shipping. 

Remembering to abide by your gift budget means you can enjoy the holiday season stress-free and ring-in a very happy New Year.

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