Holiday Savings Planning

It’s easy to overspend during the holidays. An American Express survey found its customers plan to spend approximately $1,500 this year on gifts alone.Sale doesn't always mean savings. That's why it is important to create your savings plan for the holiday season. Holidays -- once a time for family, food and gifts -- are now prime seasons of financial peril. When using credit cards to purchase items, it's easy to forget how much has been actually spent. Here we've written some guidelines to help make the holidays manageable. Visit our page here on Holiday Savings Planning for more information.

Some Suggestions to Follow:
• Decide on how much you can afford to spend
• Budget in hand, write down your shopping lists for the year
• Look at the list and see where you can cut back
• Don’t forget to include the extras when cratingyour budget
• Plan your gift buying shopping trips
• Use store’s convenient lay-a-way plan, if unable to pay for full item
• Make gifts at home: baked goods, picture collages, or arts and crafts

Additional Resources:

  • Holiday Expense Planner- this is an easy to use chart that will help you see and calculate your holiday expenses.
  • Savings PlannerThis calendar tool can help you stay on top of all the activities and deadlines this holiday season.  December Planner: Map out your holiday activities and events using this calendar planner. 

Holiday Meals without the Stress

It's that time again! The carols, the holly, the mistletoe (oh la la!) and unfortunately the stress. 

Between wrapping gifts, preparing meals and decorating who doesn't get stressed over the holidays? Here are some ideas and resources for filling hungry stomachs without emptying out your piggy bank. Plan your menu, shop for your groceries and extra things needed, and begin making preparations early. View our page here on Holiday Grocery Shopping: How to Bring Home the Bacon Without Breaking the Pig.

Planning meals may seem strange when most of us are hustling to get the job done. A planned menu saves time, money, and reduces stress. No more extra trips to the supermarket!  A menu plan also reduces impulse spending and improves good nutrition. Thus, there is more time to create healthy side dishes and salads complementing your meal.


  • Write the date of when you purchased the items. Take advantage of plentiful coupons and rebates in advance, by buying non-perishable items when they are on sale. If you buy certain items regularly, stock up for additional savings.
  • Know what you need. Then you won’t be tempted to spend on extra items
  • When you are planning that menu, remember you aren't feeding 10,000. Pick a few great things and make them great this holiday season.Or better yet, host a potluck and have each member of the family bring their favorite holiday items.
  • Many grocery stores double coupons, but some will even triple them from time to time. Increase your savings by combining a manufacturer coupon with a store coupon for the same item.
  • Be an early bird, and beat those early birds! Wake up and get those savings! Some stores offer huge sales in accordance with the holiday, or during certain times of the day for a few hours. Go there early in order to bag the best deals on items. Success comes to those who prepare and put in the extra effort. So roll up your sleeves, read the papers, and find those coupons. 

Extra Resources:

  • Holiday Grocery List Food can be a real budget buster during the holidays.  With so many opportunities to gather around the table, stay on top of costs by keeping a list and checking it twice!  This is a list for your grocery shopping by food category.
  • 20 Ways to Save at the Grocery Store  The cost of food can really skyrocket during the holidays.  Here are some ways you can save organized by Virginia Tech Cooperative Extension. 
  • Holiday Turkey Dinner Calculator- from, this calculator finds the approximate amount of turkey along with the appropriate quantity of stuffing (dressing) and gravy needed to feed a family. There is tabled information below on thawing and cooking.
  • Couponing Guide: learn how to make the most of coupons to save you more as you purchase the things you need.   

Holiday Gift Giving Resources

The holidays should be a time for happiness and celebration. Most families look forward to gift-giving, holiday activities, and visits with families. However, it can also be stressful with hectic shopping trips, budget planning, and the holiday “hustle and bustle”. Focus on alternative gifts to your family and friends without spending a fortune. For more information on how to save while giving, visit our full page Gift Giving Ideas for the Holidays: Gifts from the Heart

Quick and Easy Shopping Tips:
  • Don’t wait until the day before the big event to shop
  • Leave the credit cards at home
  • Charge carefully
  • Get organized 
  • Remember that online items may cost more due to shipping charges 

Interesting Gift Suggestions:

  • Create a brag book in minutes by uploading images to a CD and bringing them to a photo-printing kiosk.
  • Prove that eco-cleaning does work and can smell nice, too. Fill a pretty bottle with a homemade cleaner scented with essential oils. Find easy-to-make formulas at On the home page, type in “how to make green cleaning supplies.”
  • Make a recipe booklet with your favorites handwritten on cute cards. Punch a hole in the corner of each and tie together with a festive ribbon. Offer a dessert sample with the booklet.
  • Dip pretzels in melted store-bought almond bark and lay them on wax paper. Decorate with red and green sugar crystals, then package in holiday-themed cellophane bags.
More Resources:
  • Stocking stuffers can add up in addition to all the other purchases.  Save by making a list and staying on top of costs.  Christmas Stocking Stuffers: List what stocking gifts you have for each person.   List cost and location of purchase as well.
  • Gifts from the heart: Finding personal gifts can be a challenge, but here is a list to help you wow them this holiday season.
  • Looking for a NO cost gift idea?  Consider Gift Coupons – offer your valued services that will be appreciated more than any trinket you could purchase.
  • My Holiday Spending Plan:  This is a must-have.  Plan your holiday spending including gifts, food, activities, utilities and more!  

New Year's Resolutions Now

New Year's Day may seem distant, but don't let that stop you from making a resolution today to start saving. Your personal wealth is always an important thing to keep striving for. With so many resources, it's easy to find effective ways to save. Find out just how much your assets are worth with our personal wealth estimator, learn about savings and investments, and take control of your debit and credit. Learn how to save for auto purchases, emergencies, or a home.

Tips for Saving:

Save your loose change.  Putting aside fifty cents a day over the course of a year will allow you to save nearly $200.

Take the amount the item costs and divide it into your hourly wage. If it’s a $50 pair of shoes and you make $10 an hour, ask yourself, are those shoes really worth five long hours of work?

Shop for food with a list and stick to it.  People who do food shopping with a list, and buy little else, spend much less money.

Learn about the four types of savings recommended by financial advisors on our Virginia Saves Blog- Four Golden Rings: The Four Types of Saving

Become a Virginia Saver! Enroll now and take your first steps to building long-term personal wealth

Holiday Decorating on a Budget

A lot of extra money is wasted over the holiday season. Conveniences such as professional gift wrapping and novelty attachments can really add up. By creating your own holiday spending plan, you can organize your inventory of items for each person on your list. Also, it becomes easy to see how much you are actually spending versus the estimated cost. For more information visit: Decking the Halls: Decorating on a Budget

When Decorating For the Holidays:

1.  Decorate with holiday ribbon. The ribbon can be tied to curtains, banisters, windows, and placed on mantles with a few unlit candles.

2.  Bring the outdoors indoors. Don't be afraid to use pine cones and needles for decorations. The cones can also be painted or dipped in glitter for unique ornaments

3.  Want a unique table runner? Use an old holiday scarf instead!

4.  Wrap your doors in Christmas wrapping paper and attach large bows make from fabric or purchased at your local craft store.

5.  Use a holiday pop-up book as a centerpiece. Just open the book up to a desirable picture and place the open book in the center of your table.

6.  Trim door frames, window frames and the edges of mirrors with Christmas garland.

7.  For convincing "snow" on your tree, lay lengths of rolled cotton, available at drugstores, on the branches.

8.  Stuffing potpourri into bowls or baskets is another great idea to make a beautiful centerpiece.

9.  Tie cinnamon sticks with ribbons and hang them from the mantle, Christmas tree, etc.

10.  Make your own garlands with the help of popcorn, buttons, beads, cranberries, charms, candies, etc. Use these garlands for decorating the house.

11.  Consider inexpensive decorating strategies, such as children's artwork and crafts

12.  Inspect and inventory holiday decorations and only purchase items to enhance current decorations

13.  Check light strands for cracked or broken bulbs and replace bulbs. The bulbs are less expensive.

Staying organized with the things you have on hand will save you both time and money at Christmas.  Christmas Decorating Chart:  Document where Christmas Decorations are stored and the year they were added to your collection.