Tips for Happy Money: How to Stretch Your Budget Despite Buying Fewer Gifts This Year

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With a painfully expensive holiday season hanging over a country already reeling from more than a year of high inflation, people are looking to save money any way they can. Unfortunately for those on their shopping lists, it seems most people will compensate by reduce gifts.

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One in three people who responded to a new GOBankingRates survey said they plan to spend less on gifts to cope with rising costs. Most people think the prices of gifts are rising faster than the cost of things like travel and decorating, which is why more people cut back on gifts than skip the turkey, go without a living tree or any other change to their usual traditions.

Despite their reduced gift budget, 30% still expect to spend more this year than last and more than 11% expect holiday spending to put them into debt.

So if they’ve already cut their gift budget, how can people make it to New Year’s Eve without breaking the bank?

It’ll take a smart strategy, but freebies aren’t the only way to spend less.

It’s not just the gifts; It’s the stuff they’re wrapped in

If you’re really looking to make a statement, you can spend $30 for 10 individual sheets of premium wrapping paper made from luxurious Yuzen Washi paper imported from Japan – but you don’t need to shop Rodeo Drive to spend. too much on wrapping paper.

The good news is that you don’t have to settle for junk to get a bargain either.

“You don’t have to go for dollar store stuff,” said Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst at “Actually you should avoid buying it there, but you can always get better gift wrap for a good price at warehouse clubs. It will hold up well and looks great even if it’s not great chic, which means you’re not wasting money on beautiful packaging that will be thrown away as soon as your gift is opened.

It’s just a holiday party: dress to kill with what’s in your wardrobe

The only winners of the annual holiday clothing contest are the online influencers who get their duds for free. The losers are the loved ones you give gifts to so you can splurge to win best dressed.

“It can be easy to look in a closet and think you have nothing to wear, but the truth is, you can repurpose last year’s party clothes and no one will bat an eyelid,” Ramhold said. “If you really want something new, at least try to find something that you can dress up to be festive, but that’s not just something you’ll only wear on vacation. At least that way, you you’ll get more out of the piece than if you were buying something clearly meant for a winter party.

Host a potluck party – or at least do it BYOB

Food inflation has driven prices up faster at the grocery store than just about anywhere else. If you’re hosting this year, you could save a lot of money with a potluck.

“You could split the cost of your holiday meal with family or friends,” said Laura Adams, MBA, personal finance expert at “The season can be more affordable and enjoyable if everyone brings a delicious dish to the holiday table.”

But some people enjoy both entertaining and cooking; so if you’re not prepared to ask your guests to bring a covered dish, the real savings may not come from what they eat, but from what they drink.

Research published just before the pandemic showed that people drink twice as much alcohol between Thanksgiving and New Years than the rest of the year – and COVID has only increased America’s taste for adult beverages.

It’s not just consumption that has increased, the price per bottle has also increased. As early as last holiday season, the Los Angeles Times was already reporting that so-called alcohol inflation was driving up the price of holiday beer, wine and spirits — and the costs have only risen ever since. during.

Send your greeting cards online

Card lovers love sending their little envelopes as much as they love parties and gifts. No one is asking you to give up your favorite holiday tradition – just reinvent it for the digital age.

“Instead of wasting money on cards and stamps to send these items, consider making e-cards instead,” Ramhold said. “You can usually create a design for cheap or even free and then email it to friends and family rather than sending a physical card. For some people that’s just part of it. holiday routine, but it’s something most people don’t think is necessary anymore.

If you haven’t booked a trip yet, don’t

In mid-October, the New York Times echoed almost every savvy travel expert that it was already getting late for anyone looking for deals on vacation travel. Demand was high, capacity was limited and prices were rising rapidly – anyone planning to travel was advised to book by mid-November at the latest.

If you haven’t pulled the trigger yet, wait for the new year.

“Depending on your plans, travel can be one of the biggest vacation expenses,” Adams said. “Consider staying home over the holidays and planning to see relatives off season when travel may be less expensive.”

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