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Our 5 Best Tips for Christmas on a Budget

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man wearing santa onesie suit in the car

Are you ready for Christmas and trying to keep your budget in check?🎄

I know you’re reading this headline thinking, “Christmas?! We haven’t even had Thanksgiving yet… or even Halloween for that matter!” but trust me, there’s a method to the madness. It’s no secret that holiday shopping can be stressful, so having a plan BEFORE the holidays arrive helps alleviate the chaos.

Here are 5 easy ways for 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.

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 cash back on your everyday purchases!

2. Set up automatic bank transfers.

woman putting dollar bills in unicorn piggy bank for Christmas budget

If you like having more control, 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!” — Alana

3. 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 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.

“Buy all the clearance things! Just kidding — but really, I buy throughout the year whenever I see things that I think would make a good gift. Plus, if by the time Christmas comes and they’re not interested in that anymore, it’s a great donation item!” — Alana

Buying throughout the year has SAVED me and my Christmas budget! I remember a friend telling me in like July that she had all her Christmas shopping done — I freaked out. Ever since I have been trying to do the same thing. I am nowhere near done, but I have gotten better. I used to be a Christmas Eve shopper! Oh, and don’t forget about Black Friday deals!” — Jessica

“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

4. 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 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!

5. Switch up the tradition.

man and woman smiling on beach

Instead of buying the latest toys and tech, consider gifting memories instead. If it’s a warm-weather trip, you can buy a couple of gifts as hints, like bathing suits, towels, or beach supplies which are on clearance right now! Gifting memories and experiences are also great ways to help lessen the feeling of entitlement in children.

“One year we gifted our three kids a family vacation to Hawaii for Spring Break! To make it extra fun, I created a scavenger hunt on Christmas morning with tropical-themed clues like sunscreen, bathing suits, pineapple candles, etc. The kids had a blast solving the scavenger hunt and then really looked forward to the trip for three months — it was fun counting down the days. The trip itself was awesome! We created so many memories and really connected as a family!” — Bryn

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!

Join The Discussion

Comments 17

  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. ldickens

    Sorry this is off topic – is the coupon trading thread no longer available? Thanks in advance!

  3. 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!


    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!!!!!!

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. Gramma C

    What does this word – Budget – mean??

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

  11. Sandra

    I use acorns and like it a lot

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