Four Ways to Reduce Holiday Spending

Most of us can’t afford to spend thousands on the holiday season each year, so learn the most effective ways to preserve your finances this December.

Lauren BowlingBy Lauren Bowling, the blogger behind

This post is sponsored by Regions Bank, Member FDIC. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

There are two disclosures I need to make before I get into this post. The first is that our friends at Regions Bank, Member FDIC, have sponsored this post.

Second, before I get into the nitty-gritty of this, I need to share that you’re not going to save this holiday season by couponing alone. Sometimes coupons simply aren’t available for the gifts you want to buy, but retailers are willing to offer deep discounts through loyalty programs, online deals, or other ways.

And hey, aren’t we always looking for the best possible price?

This article is going to cover the deepest savings strategies. Fair warning: while the options listed below may not be the most popular, they are the most effective if you’re looking to preserve your finances this December.

Create Fun Alternatives to Traditional Holiday Gifts

The holidays are synonymous with gift giving, but if you have multiple friends and family members to cherish, it can get expensive — quickly.

There are alternatives to traditional holiday gift giving:

  • White elephant (Everyone brings a single gift to participate in the game.)
  • Secret Santa (Extended family members draw names and purchase a gift only for that person.)
  • Donating to a charity in honor of your family members (Trust me, no one will gripe about this.)
  • Forgoing gifts in favor of participating in an experience together as a family, such as seeing a show, visiting a botanical garden or participating in a holiday cookie-making class
  • Volunteering together as a family

Bear in mind that if you’d like to make an alternative gift exchange happen, you may need to be the one to spearhead the effort, from planning to communications with all family members involved. It will be extra work to corral everyone around your idea, but it will save you lots of money in the long run.

Elect to Stay at Home

In a recent report, Americans expect to spend (on average) $875 on Christmas or other holiday gifts, decorations, food and other key seasonal items this year.* This doesn’t even factor in the cost of travel — NerdWallet’s 2023 Holiday Travel Report found that Americans put an average of $1,947 on their credit cards to travel during the season.

This is a tough one, because the spirit of the holiday season can be enriched by spending time with family. But, depending on your financial situation, forgoing holiday travel may be a short-term fix needed to help you reach longer-term financial goals you’re trying to achieve, like paying off debt or saving for a home.

Leverage Resources Already Available to You

You may not be able to afford a financial planner to help you prepare your monies for the holiday season. But you may already have a plethora of free resources available to you.

For example, Regions Next Step offers content, guidance and tools to help you break down any financial targets into manageable and achievable steps. Exploring these resources or playing with the interactive Regions calculator tools (like this one for savings) can help you figure out how much you’ll need for the holiday season, or whatever financial goal you’d like to hit in 2020 and beyond.

Plan Early, Plan Often

It may be a little late to implement many of these strategies for this season (or am I the only excessive planner in the room?), but planning ahead is one of the biggest ways to save money during the holidays.

For example:

  • Create a “hit list” of gifts to buy using the Regions Holiday Budget Worksheet before Black Friday and Cyber Monday so you can take advantage of the biggest seasonal discounts
  • Order holiday cards before Halloween for the best deals
  • Take advantage of closeout deals on holiday decor by buying in January for the year ahead
  • Shop for gifts throughout the year so your budget doesn’t take a hit the last two months of the year

If you’re looking to shave a substantial amount off of holiday spending (thousands of dollars), big sacrifices = big savings!

Just remember, these sacrifices are temporary. You don’t have to sacrifice traveling home or buying presents every year. And in the meantime, lean on free resources from financial institutions such as Regions Bank to help you prepare and stay out of debt during “the most expensive time of the year.”

*NRF and Prosper Insights & Analytics October 2023 Consumer Holiday Survey

About Lauren Bowling

Lauren Bowling wants to live in a world where everyone has at least $1,000 in a savings account and cheesecake calories don’t count. As the blogger behind, she’s been featured in digital outlets such as CNBC, Forbes, The Huffington Post, CNN Money, Elite Daily, Business Insider and more.


This information is general in nature and is not intended to be legal, tax, or financial advice. Although Regions believes this information to be accurate, it cannot ensure that it will remain up to date. Statements or opinions of individuals referenced herein are their own—not Regions'. Consult an appropriate professional concerning your specific situation and for current tax rules. Regions, the Regions logo, and the LifeGreen bike are registered trademarks of Regions Bank. The LifeGreen color is a trademark of Regions Bank.