2012-12-27 December Progress Report Holiday


It’s that time of the year again – The Holidays.

A season when we all spend money whether it’s on gifts or entertaining.

You feel pressure to buy everyone the right gift, throw the best holiday party, and have the fly-est holiday outfit. But, it’s important to step back and think about what you can really afford.

How can you save more coin this holiday?


Budget, Budget, Budget

Let’s be honest here. While you’re out holiday shopping, there are tons of things on-sale saying:

“Buy me, buy me, please take me home with you.”

And the struggle is real for everyone.

According to a Upromise by Sallie Mae survey, 43% of survey takers said their guiltiest shopping holiday secret is they spend money on themselves while holiday shopping.


Not going to lie. I’m also guilty of this.

That’s why having a budget is integral. It keeps you on track so you can stick to the plan even if other items grab your attention on your shopping trip.

Before you even step foot in a mall, review your income and expenses for December and come up with a number you feel comfortable with spending on gifts (that won’t put you in debt).

Then, budget out a certain amount of money for each person on your holiday shopping list.


Don’t Be Shy with Your Budget

Another fun fact from the same Upromise survey:

55% of the people who responded don’t agree on a gift budget with family and friends.

This is an opportunity for you to save some serious cash, my friend.

Setting a budget relieves pressure from everyone involved.

Several years ago, I had just dipped my toes into self-employment. Needless to say, I was broke and had no business buying every family member a holiday gift like I had in years past.

Guess what?

I found out my family wanted to spend cautiously as well.


So, I organized a Secret Santa where everyone got one special gift and we set a gift limit of $50. There’s a nifty online Secret Santa app we used to create a wish list and it picks random names for everyone in the group.

Now, it’s become a tradition.

It’s fun to see how everyone gets creative under the spending limit and it drastically reduces everyone’s holiday gift spending.

How can you implement a gift budget cap this year?

Don’t be afraid to be realistic and honest with your family and friends. You can try the Secret Santa idea like I did or you can simply set a gift budget across the board for everyone you swap gifts with.


Use Rewards Credit Cards the Right Way

Now, don’t get me wrong. Going into holiday credit card debt is a big no-no.

But, if you use cash back credit cards the right way, you can get rewarded for cash you intend to spend anyway.

The Upromise MasterCard is one option to get rewarded in cash back for money spent.


For example, you can earn 5% cash back on eligible online purchases, 2% cash back at department stores, and an additional 1% cash back on all other purchases. That’s on top of what you would already earning as a Upromise member. Upromise is free to join and you can earn up to 5 percent cash back at more than 850 online retail partners or earn cash back while  dining at one of Upromise’s more than 10,000 partner restaurants. Also, if holiday travel is on your agenda, booking a trip through a Upromise travel partner including Orbitz and Travelocity can also mean money back in your pocket.


The best part is the cash-back you earn from a Upromise MasterCard can be put towards college education savings or paying down a student loan. You can also gift the cash back to help family or friends save for college.

Not a bad gift, right?

Always keep in mind, to take advantage of a cash back rewards program you need to pay off the credit card in full before the closing date to avoid interest. If you let interest rack up on your debt you won’t benefit much from the cash back.


The Big Secret to Saving on Gifts

Have fun with it and be creative. Sure, the saying is cliché, but still – it’s the thought that counts.

You can let someone know they’re special to you with a thoughtful holiday gift that’s inexpensive. So, create your budget, stick to it, and set the expectation with loved ones on how much you’ll be spending on gifts.

Do you have any holiday shopping savings tips? Share them below!


Live richer,




FYI: As a partner, I was compensated by Upromise by Sallie Mae for the contents in this post. However, all the opinions expressed are my own. I’ve been using Upromise years before partnering with them.


About the Author Tiffany Aliche

Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche, is an award-winning teacher of financial education, America’s favorite, personal financial educator, and author of the New York Times Bestselling book, Get Good with Money. The Budgetnista is also an Amazon #1 bestselling author of The One Week Budget and the Live Richer Challenge series and most recently, a children's book, Happy Birthday Mali More.

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  1. Reading your post is the best holiday gift I can give to myself. Learning to budget for spending never occurred to me. Therefore, I will use all the tips you gave. Thanks

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