6 Money-Saving Tips for Doing Christmas on a Budget

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Here are some tips to have an awesome Christmas on a budget!

hand holding wrapped stack of cards

Are you gearing up for Christmas while also trying to keep your budget in check?🎄

It’s no secret that holiday shopping can be stressful, so having a plan BEFORE the holidays arrive helps alleviate the chaos.

Here are 6 easy ways to do Christmas on a budget this year.

1. Download apps designed for no-brainer money saving.

smartphone with the digit app rainy day fund

Start by looking into apps like Digit or Qapital that can link to your checking account and save bits of money here and there without you even realizing it. They only take a couple of minutes to set up, and they do all the work for you! It’s such an easy way to save up money for your Christmas budget. Some banks even offer a service like this.

My Hip sidekick Emily signed up for Digit and managed to save over $2,200 by having the app automatically transfer money from her checking to her savings — so easy! 💰

Hip Tip: You can also check out rewards apps that will earn you cashback on your everyday purchases!

2. Download our money challenge chart to create your own layaway!

52 week money challenge printed with money and calculator

With many people being disappointed by the cancelation of Walmart’s Layaway, we made a 52 Week Money challenge so you can save in increments! Simply follow the chart and deposit money based on which week it is.

With a couple months until Christmas, feel free to fast forward to whichever week you feel comfortable starting at. You can even continue this after the holidays and use it for birthdays and other special occasions.

3. Set up automatic bank transfers.

woman putting dollar bills in unicorn piggy bank for Christmas budget

If you like the concept of the money challenge but would rather have it occur automatically instead of manually, look into automated transfers between your checking and savings. You could also ask your employer to send a portion of your paycheck to a special saving account for your holiday spending.

It’s the same theory of saving without having to manually complete the process, except you can control the amount and the frequency.

“Our bank does the Christmas fund so it automatically transfers over $25 a paycheck from each of us, and that helps out a lot! I love the automatic feature because I’m just not disciplined enough to do it myself. Yay for keeping my Christmas budget in check!”

4. Buy clearance items when you see them.

woman picking up clearance candles at Target

It’s no secret that you’ll save a ton by purchasing gifts on clearance, but don’t think you need to wait until December to start buying! Search for marked-down gifts that typically don’t require gift receipts such as candles, beauty & personal care products, or housewares, to ensure your recipient won’t have to worry about exchanging for another size.

You can also check out clearance from stores with generous return policies like Macy’s, Kohl’s, and Target just in case you think your giftee may want to return the gift.

The key for our family staying on a holiday budget is buying Christmas gifts… in January! When Target typically goes down 90 percent off, I hit about 4 Targets in one day, scouring aisles for Christmas-themed beauty items, housewares, toys, holiday apparel, etc. and store it away in a huge Rubbermaid tub for the next year!” — Jules, Hip2Save Reader

“I make gift baskets for people with their favorite things and gather the supplies throughout the year. For example, my mom gets a book basket, my sister-in-law gets a Joanna Gaines basket, etc. You can give huge baskets of stuff for less when you shop clearance and sale items!” — Michelle

5. Use discounted gift cards on gift purchases.

our best tricks to budget for christmas — discounted gift cards on a smartphone

If you aren’t using discounted gift cards yet, what are you waiting for?! We like purchasing from Raise.com because of its user-friendly platform, 365-day guarantee, and good customer service. You can also browse all of our recent gift card deals here!

6. Switch up the tradition.

man and woman smiling on beach

Instead of buying the latest toys and tech, consider gifting memories. If it’s a warm-weather trip, you can buy a couple of gifts as hints, like bathing suits, towels, or beach supplies that are on clearance right now! Gifting memories and experiences are also great ways to bond together as a family well past the holidays!

“We do trips! Our kids are older now (12 and 14), and this past year, we took them on a cruise to Grand Turks and Amber Cover. They had a blast and wanted to do it again, so we are going to Mexico this time around. We wait and go during one of the breaks from school. We don’t tell them where we’re going. Their travel info is also wrapped and put under the tree for Christmas morning. They prefer a trip over gifts!— Ness, Hip2Save Reader

Man wearing santa print suit shopping for Christmas at Target

How do you save on Christmas gifts and other holiday expenses?

We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Check out more ways to save for Christmas right now!

About the writer:

Angela graduated with a Bachelor's Degree and has 25+ years of experience as a writer and photographer with her work being featured in US Weekly Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, People Magazine, and more.

Join The Discussion

Comments 23

  1. T

    Are there any apps like Digit and Capital that don’t charge fees?

    • Jennifer Lisa

      Most online backs offer a service like the one mentioned for free.

    • Elsa Jines

      Digit is not free I use it and I’m charged $5 a month.

  2. nessmith04

    We do trips! Our kids are older now (12 and 14) and have everything they’ve ever wanted. This past year, we took them on a cruise to Grand Turks and Amber Cover. They had a blast and wanted to do it again so we are going i Mexico, this go around. We wait and go during one of the breaks from school. We’ll do the cruise to Mexico in April, during their spring break. We don’t talk them where they’re going. Their travel info is also wrapped and put under the tree, for Christmas morning. They prefer a trip over gifts!

    • Chrisse

      We did this with our adult kids a few yrs back and the whole family decided to go. We had a blast!! We did a scavenger hunt to lead back to the tree with a cruise ship ornament. Best memories!! Hoping to do it again soon!!


    This is not money saving but the way I am saving this year. My husband is out of work. I have discovered mug cakes and brownies, when they are on sale for 1.00 I purchase them to give as gifts. I purchase a small bag of chopped nuts, a can of whipped cream, box of hot chocolate (which goes on sale for 1.00 box) or get a Starbucks 5.00 gift card, put them in brown craft gift bags ( which I keep, works for any occasion) tie with ribbon. There are 4 cakes in a box. Everyone has mugs, if not go to the dollar store. SAVINGS!!!!!!

  4. Evie

    I do not believe in buying a lot of gifts! Most children on my list receive board games or books! Adults get books also. The whole meaning of Christmas is too commercial! Times are going to get tougher! Some give me gifts and hopefully it is stuff they received and cannot use. I hate waste and will quickly pass it along.
    I know a woman who blew thousands of dollars on gifts so people would like her. A couple of months ago her basement flooded so far it cost $10,000. I do not see her friends helping. Please, take care of yourselves first!

    • Kay

      I agree. I don’t believe in a lot of gifts nor do I believe in expensive outrageous gifts. Anything thoughtful and sincere will do, no matter the price. Anything that puts u in the spirit of giving, serving, sharing, and loving. But to answer the question on this post: I buy gifts on deep clearance year round.

  5. Lauren

    I use apps like Fetch and Ibotta all year long to earn cash for gift cards. My work place also offers health challenges twice a year where all you have to do is sign up and complete the challenge (this time it is counting steps) and you automatically receive a free $100 gift card. I also follow your site and several others to find deals and always combine with discounted gift cards and promo codes and cash back sites like Rakuten and TopCashback. I’ve found that Groupon and Local Flavor app are best for food and entertainment deals. And…if you are looking for deals on brand name, high ticket items like Dyson, consider the refurb options often available through Newegg. I also dog sit or dog walk for easy extra cash. I don’t believe in going into debt for the holidays.

  6. Gramma C

    What does this word – Budget – mean??

  7. Amy

    I purchase all my groceries and gas with my credit card. I turn around and pay it off as soon as it posts. Since these two are things I always need and have to purchase I’m not over spending. I use the points from my credit card and get the cash option. Boom! Money for Christmas.

  8. Amanda

    Rakuten, ibotta, coinout, fetch, swagbucks, ReceiptPal & Shopkick. All great Apps to accrue points/cash with purchases and receipts. By doing it throughout the year, my family us ~$300 more to spend on Christmas. The Mercari App is awesome bc you can set a goal for selling. When I reminded myself I wanted to pay for a fancy Christmas photoshoot with Santa this year, it helped let go of more things.
    Last, credit cards point are a help too. The trick to all is to let your balances accrue then cash out in October/ November for Christmas shopping. Good Luck, every little bit helps and HIP2SAVE is always here to let us know about sales we never even knew we wanted.

  9. Jules

    The key for our family staying in a holiday budget is buying Christmas gifts —-in January! When target typically goes down 90 percent off I hit about 4 targets in one day, scouring aisles for Christmas themed beauty items, housewares, toys, holiday apparel, etc. and store it away in a huge Rubbermaid tub for the next year! By spending pennies on the dollar, this enables our family to give BIG to toy drives, organizations, work colleagues, friends, neighbors, etc.! We even stock up on all of the Christmas gift bags and wrap, ribbon at 90 percent off too! It feels so amazing to have more gifts at the ready to share with others when the next holiday rolls around, not to mention the great timesaver not having to deal with going inside crowded stores! Does anyone know if target plans to clearance Christmas merch this year at deep discounts (90) percent during the pandemic? Homeade Family “love” coupons are always great gifts In a pinch too! Stay safe this holiday everyone!

    • Samia

      Target did last year. I do what you do too. Get my ornaments, lights, decorations, cards, things I can use for gift baskets like holiday spatulas and towels, stuffed animals (not holiday themed), tissue paper, wrapping paper and gift bags after Christmas and put away for next year. Some things are labeled Christmas items and they can be used any time of year in that section for gifts. Hobby Lobby has great sales right before Christmas and after. Last year I don’t think Hobby Lobby bought as much stuff for the season (probably wasn’t sure about demand with pandemic) so not as much leftover but still got some good deals.

  10. Sandra

    I use acorns and like it a lot

  11. Princess'Mom

    I used to be finished with my shopping by October. These days, I do still pick up little odds and ends into December but I’m mostly finished by November. Black Friday is my time to pick up things we need for our home like new appliances, kitchen items, electronics, etc.
    We also don’t buy outrageous amounts of gifts for holidays or birthdays so we have extra money for trips throughout the year.

  12. Judilyn Stutz

    Due to my immediate family being so large I come up with a theme and start shopping in January. I purchase the gifts cards first, the theme this year is Beanies for everyone no matter what the age. Having a theme makes it a lot easier to shop and is not a stressful.

  13. Casey

    I buy a little all year long. Makes it a lot easer not spending so much all at one time. Also the bulk of my shopping will be done by the holidays.

  14. ShaJ

    Last year our family decided to draw names rather than everybody buying gifts for everybody. We set a money limit and now only purchase 1 gift, for the persons name we draw. We now do the Saran Wrap ball (since gift opening time together is much shortened) and we are loving it!

  15. Tracey

    We draw names for our extended family (our family get togethers include 20+ people) and set a limit of $50; makes it nicer than giving small gifts to everyone. The “kids” get included in that once they are around 14 or 15. We also have an exchange game where everyone brings a gift valued at around $15; it can be used but only if it looks new. We tried lots of games like drawing numbers, the “left/right” story, etc but I finally made up a personalized game about 8 years ago and it is much more fun. With my DH and kids, we still give them quite a few gifts but I buy things throughout the year on sale and a lot are things that they need like clothes.

  16. Ann

    I pick crafty kits and things up for the great-nieces and nephews year-round (we don’t have any kids so buy for the greats) for both birthdays and Christmas plus Valentine’s, Easter, and Halloween goodies just after the holiday is over…even for future years. Store everything in a closet or under the bed in bins with post-a-notes on each item as to name, occasion, and year. I also keep index cards in my purse as to what I have already bought for each so I that lets me know if I need something when I spot a great markdown. With the price of shipping, we combine VD and Easter goodies plus first half of the year BD gifts to mail together in early February and then Halloween goodies, Christmas, and fall BD gifts to mail at the beginning of October. If they open early, that’s their fault. lol I end up spending more on postage to mail the packages than what I’ve spent total on all the gifts. It was so nice to have all of THIS year’s BD and Christmas gifts (except for a gift card for a teenager) purchased when I was wrapping LAST year’s Christmas gifts in late September. I also hit BBW after Christmas to put sets together for Home-Instead gifts plus pick up discounted fleece throws for them also….then I only have to fill in with small things the residents put on their lists. If only the rest of my life was this organized. Sigh!!

  17. sarasbobo

    I’m on my 4th year of the money challenge except after the 1st year I reversed it because it was harder to put away the higher amounts of money when holidays were coming & I had more saved if I decided to use it for the holidays. I hope this make sense.

  18. shelley

    I start buying in January for the next Christmas for my two married daughters and their husbands couponing for inexpensive household and personal care products, shampoo, body wash, nail polish, toilet paper, paper towels, toothpaste, etc. I then have purchased different recepticals to put things in when its on sale such as laundry baskets, huge box store buckets, plastic totes, all things they can use. This is their stocking stuffers but at a huge discount. They have all told me how much they appreciate those items, esp when they run out of something and don’t have to spend THEIR money on those items. I save a ton of money by waiting for the $1 body wash, the free toothpaste, the items that give me back rebates etc. They don’t coupon so have no idea how inexpensively I am getting these things for. They have ended up with several large totes or several laundry baskets full of stuff. I’m called the “practical mom” where the mothers-in-law are the “frivolous moms!” It works and is a good balance.

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