Get expert insights delivered straight to your inbox.

Skip to Main Content

4 Holiday Budget Busters and How to Beat Them

You’ve set your holiday budget (bravo to you!). But then you’re tempted by all things festive, and before you know it, you find yourself in a whirlwind of tinsel and overspending. It happens to us all, but you don’t have to get caught in this trap. You just need to be aware of what’s coming and have a plan to stand against it. Here are four super common holiday budget busters and a game plan for how you can stop them in their tracks.

1. Food

It’s the most wonderful time of the year . . . for baking and feasting. For those who love making mini cinnamon loaves, giant roasts and cranberry everything this time of year, the grocery bill can get a little out of control if you aren’t careful.

How to beat this holiday budget buster: Meal plan! That includes planning out all the extra holiday baking. And we know the season might look a little different this year, but if you do plan on having in-person gatherings, make sure you plan for any party food you need to bring to those! Then put those ingredients on your shopping list and track all your food spending carefully to make sure you don’t go over. Also, if you know you’re going to spend more on this during December, either make a holiday food budget line or beef up your grocery budget line.

2. Obligation Gifts

You get a gift. You give a gift. That’s just how it goes. Unfortunately, sometimes you’ll get a gift from a friend or coworker who’s not on your list—or in your budget. What’s a polite, etiquette-respecting person to do?

How to beat this holiday budget buster: Put a little padding in your gift budget, like an extra $20 for any forgotten or surprise gift needs. Or buy a couple of small, meaningful presents, like a candle from a company who donates to a local food pantry, to have at the ready. This way, you’ll be prepared for those moments and can enjoy the spirit of giving—without wasting money on mindless trinkets. (Use our Christmas Present Planner to help you prep for all your gift buying this year.)

3. Comparisons

Your brother spends $500 on each of his kids, so you do too. Your neighbors go all out with lights and decorations, so you splurge on your own yard. Your coworker bought the boss an over-the-top gift, so now you feel like you need to do the same.

How to beat this holiday budget buster: Guess who you need to impress this season? No. One. This is your money, your budget and your Christmas—don’t waste any of it trying to be like someone else. Spend less time thinking about stuff and more time enjoying the true meaning of the season.     

4. The Spirit of Spending

Let’s be honest: Spending money during the holiday season is, well, fun. We’re going to bed with visions of sugar plums and waking up ready to cover every inch under the tree with gifts. All the gift buying, hall decking, and festive clothing shopping gets a person in a merry mood, after all.  

How to beat this holiday budget buster: This is another place you need to shift your mindset. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to make the days merry and bright! Decorating with paper chains or popcorn string is thrifty and fun. And sticking to the budget is going to be an incredible gift to yourself and your money goals.

It’s all about being intentional—plan ahead and shift the focus of the season from spending money to sharing some love.


Start budgeting with EveryDollar today!

And being intentional with your money starts with the budget. And we happen to have a fabulous one called EveryDollar. And. It's. Free. So, start your free budget, get these four tips in action, and truly enjoy your holidays this year!

Did you find this article helpful? Share it!

Ramsey Solutions

About the author


Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners. Learn More.

Related Articles

10 Financial Lessons From Classic Christmas Movies

10 Financial Lessons From Classic Christmas Movies

What can your favorite Christmas movies teach you about money? A lot! And we aren’t even talking about not giving out loans (looking at you George Bailey!).

Ramsey Ramsey