How to Control Holiday Spending Without Feeling Like Scrooge

Control Holiday Spending

Back when I was single and working full-time I was very diligent about my Christmas budget. I’d put money in my savings year-round. Then each December I’d withdraw it to buy gifts for my parents, siblings, nieces and nephews. It was the best way to control my holiday spending. My how things have changed. I took about a year off from working after I had A.J. Then I started this parenting talk show, started writing freelance articles, managing social media accounts and producing videos. Although I’m busy my income is far from consistent. Add in a little one,  expenses that pop up at a moment’s notice and it’s harder to set a Christmas budget. Here are some ways to control holiday spending in your household plus a $25 Family Dollar gift card giveaway.

How to Control Holiday Spending

Skip a year of Christmas gifts – This may be a little difficult to adjust to at first. But look around your home. Do you really NEED anything? I’m constantly trying to get rid of things. My husband and I haven’t exchanged Christmas gifts in awhile and we’re just fine. I’d rather just focus on A.J.

Pick names – This is especially relevant for large families with siblings and cousins. Put names in a basket, pick and you only buy for the name you selected. If I bought gifts for my first cousins every Christmas, it would add up to several mortgage payments. When I was in graduate school my siblings and I decided to pick names for the holidays.

Donate your time in someone’s honor – This time of year countless charities are looking for volunteers and help. Instead of buying a gift, donate a designated amount of time to a non-profit or cause.

Buy on sale/deal sites – I’m not down with all the Black Friday madness of pushing and shoving in stores for a big screen TV. There are plenty of alternatives and safer ways to shop online or grab a deal. For example, CARA B Naturally is offering  an exclusive 40% off its gift baskets to Mommy Talk Show viewers. I think it’s totally appropriate to find a Groupon discount or Living Social Deal.

Gifts That Give Back –  Select gifts that have a social significance. For example, the Heart of Haiti is a “trade not aid” program through Macy’s that supports Haitian artisans and their work.  Heiffer International has a gift guide each year and the proceeds supports international farming communities.

Heart of Haiti Collage

For those of you still looking for holiday gifts, check out my 2014 Holiday Gift Guide filled with suggestions for everyone in your family.

I’m giving away a $25 Family Dollar Gift Card that you can enter by December 19, 2014 at midnight. I’ll select the winner right away, put it in the mail ASAP and the winner will get it in time for after Christmas shopping. Remember, the more steps you take to enter – the better your chances of winning!

December Family Dollar Gift Card Giveaway

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About Joyce Brewer

Creator & Host of Mommy Talk Show. Emmy award-winning TV journalist.Wife & Mommy; Mom Blogger; Social Media Coach; Long Island, New York transplant living in Atlanta, GA. Follow Joyce on Twitter @MommyTalkShow Author of Use What You Know: A Business Idea Guide for Moms featuring interviews with mompreneurs who created businesses using their skills & backgrounds.

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Welcome to the busy holiday season. I haven’t even started shopping for my family. My …


  1. I set a dollar amount per child. Maybe the eldest only gets a few gifts because theirs are more big ticket than their younger siblings. They understand. I shop all sales and follow deal sites as well.

  2. I thing drawing family names is a good idea. It makes gift giving for family more affordable, and I think ultimately more meaningful – you can buy a larger, well considered gift for one person, and keep the focus more on family than on materialism. I try to keep expenses down when shopping for my husband and child by shopping deals that appear earlier in the year so I don’t get caught too much in the frenzy leading up to Christmas. I can avoid the impulse spending a little better, and by spreading the expenses out, it makes the December credit card bill more manageable. Avoiding the malls in December is an added bonus!

  3. I shop a bit through the year. I also try to limit how many people we exchange gifts with.

  4. I control my spending by making a list and sticking with it. I also buy throughout the year when I see things on sale.

  5. I make a list…try to stick to it…and regift, regift, regift!

  6. We budget for each person and then try to purchase items all year long, that way we stay within our budget. We also use coupons on toys and the target cartwheel.

  7. I limit holiday spending by finding deals and buying my items only when and if they are on sale. I also shop through ebates and discounted websites.

  8. I take only the money I can spend with me, and shop at Family Dollar for great deals.

  9. I set a budget and stick to it

  10. I set a holiday budget and stick to it

  11. I try to buy gently used items for the little kids off of craigslist!

  12. I love having a handmade holiday. I make gifts for family and friends to save money AND use up materials I have at home already.

  13. I control my holiday spending by asking my two sons to pick “one” thing they really want for Christmas with a $100 price limit.

  14. Make a careful list and try like heck to stick to it. Scour the sales for the best sales.

  15. I just set a budget and do not charge anything when the money is out I am done

  16. I control my spending by being on a budget. Its just a habit anyway. I also try to find the best deals!

  17. I usually make a budget for myself.

  18. I try to control my holiday spending by making a list and setting a budget and STICKING TO IT. Those hoiday “deals” are tempting but if its not on the list or within the budget don’t get it.

  19. always look for coupons and sales

  20. We shop sales and deals all through the year.

  21. I control my holiday spending by carefully and realistically setting a budget and stick to it!

  22. I control holiday spending by carefully and realistically setting a budget and stick to it!

  23. I control spending by setting aside a fixed amount each month for Christmas. When shopping time gets here … what I have saved is what I have to spend.

  24. I try to use cash or gift cards so I don’t run up the credit card.

  25. I set a limit for how much I am going to spend on each person I am buying gifts for.

  26. I control my holiday spending by maintaining a threshold of money I’m willing to spend on each person.

  27. I control my spending by paying with cash.

  28. I make a list and try to buy my gifts all year so this way its not spent all in one month

  29. set a budget.

  30. We make a budget and stick to it!

  31. i make a list about how much i want to spend in each person

  32. I control my holiday spending by making most of my gifts!

  33. I don’t have control at all. Luckily my spouse reigns me in when needed.

  34. I set aside a amound of money and i dont go over it

  35. I control it by shopping threwout the year

  36. I set a budget for my overall spending, then write down who I need to get gifts for and how much I’m going to spend on those people within my budget parameters.

  37. I set up a budget and then write a list of the people I need to buy gifts for and then decide how much I will spend on each of them within the parameters of my budget.

  38. i save a little money whenever i can throughout the year and use only that money for my christmas shopping

  39. Being on a fixed income is a control in and of itself.

  40. Make credit cards off limits. There is no reason to impress people with what you really can’t afford. I used to go all out but it was all fake and I got stressed at Christmas time. This is a time for joy, now I buy all cash and everyone gets “1” present except my daughter that still lives at home she gets 3 that is in my budget and I feel good about giving. All stress has disappeared.

  41. I use price matching techniques

  42. It’s just my mother and I when it comes to shopping for gifts. I don’t really have a method to control how much is spent. We don’t go overboard.

  43. I never have any money to exercise control over LOL, but if I did, I would just set aside a set amount for each person and not go over it

  44. I shop sales and clearance all year that way I don’t have to spend a ton of money at the end of the year plus I get almost everything on sale.

  45. That’s easy. I live on a fixed income and I shop all year. With 6 grandkids from 2 to 18, I have to, lol.

  46. We get everyone something they want, something to wear, something to read and something they need.

  47. I try to focus on what we need and will really use. I don’t spend a lot the rest of the year so when Christmas rolls around there’s usually something I could really use.

  48. I always ask myself whether it is something I realllllly need or love and whether or not it will add to the clutter in my house. This helps to stop impulse buying.

  49. I only buy stuff when it’s on sale!

  50. I control my spending by making a list, setting prices per gift and finding the best deals I can online. Whenever possible I take advantage of free shipping which also saves gas and time!