Ask the Readers: Do You Have a Holiday Shopping Budget?

By Ashley Jacobs on 6 December 2011 113 comments
Photo: Bigstock

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Kate, Razorbacks92, and Nicholas for winning this week's contest!

It’s time to start thinking about getting your holiday shopping done! Shopping for the holidays can be a huge drain on anyone’s bank account. While many people create a budget to follow when they holiday shop, others prefer to spend first and worry later.

Do you have a holiday shopping budget? Why or why not?

Tell us if you have a holiday shopping budget and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — one for random comments, one for random Facebook "Likes", and another one for random tweets.

Mandatory Entry: 

  • Post your answer in the comments below 

For extra entries (1 per action):

  • Go to our Facebook page, "Like" us, and leave a comment telling us you did, or
  • Tweet your answer. You have to be a follower of our @wisebread account. Include both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" in your tweet so we'll see it and count it. Leave a link to your tweet (click the timestamp for the individual URL) in a separate comment.

If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Monday, December 12th at 11:59 pm Pacific. Winners will be announced after December 12th on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.
  • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
  • This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.
  • You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.

Note: Due to recent changes in Facebook's promotions guidelines, we have restructured the entry format of our giveaways.

Good Luck!

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Guest's picture
lostAnnfound

The budget is $1,000.00. That includes gifts for kids, spouse, nieces & nephews, parents, Christmas tree, assorted tip gifts (hairdresser, paper carrier, etc.), and some house party gifts (bottle of wine/spirits, etc.). I save throughout the year in an account at my credit union so when the holidays are here there is absolutely no stress about money for the special things we buy this time of year.

Guest's picture
Shannon

I'm trying to buy everything for under $500, which is proving to be difficult :)

Guest's picture
Shannon

And I liked you on Facebook.

Guest's picture
Keith

I don't have a set budget, but I usually go in with an idea of what I want to spend. I'm usually pretty good about staying close to it.

Guest's picture
Christie

Oh, YES!! Holiday budgets are a must. We spend between $25 and $30 per person, so we have to be really careful with what we budget during the year and what we spend at holidays and birthdays. Let me tell you, you have to be creative with a limited amount to spend...but that can be half the fun!

Guest's picture
Staycee

Yes I have a holiday budget. I save all year for Christmas. And I always seem to overspend a little BUT going over budget a couple hundred dollars is easier to take than not budgeting at all and entering January a grand in the hole!

Guest's picture

Yes. My wife and I found that after our first Christmas together, if we didn't have a budget, we'd overspend. The main reason is because without a spending budget, we were trying to do calculations on the fly about how much we could afford to spend and naturally we would end up leaving something out.

Guest's picture
Nicholas

I don't really have a holiday shopping budget but I generally keep it reasonable. It helps that I don't have many people that I need to buy gifts for.

Guest's picture

I don't have a holiday budget, as much as I'm just determined to spend as little as possible on gifts. This is the first year I'm shipping a lot of presents I made myself - in some cases, it would've been cheaper to buy online and ship directly to the destination! Lessons learned for next year :-)

Guest's picture

I liked you on Facebook!

Guest's picture
Jess G.

I do have a holiday budget but sometimes I have to readjust depending on if I give more presents one year versus another.

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Rebecca Hass

I need to be extra on-budget this Christmas, so I'm attempting to spend $20 per person, or less if I can handmake something.

Don't Quit Your Day Job's picture

We do more of a per person thing - our parents get more than our siblings, who get more than our friends. (Shh, it's a secret!)

Guest's picture
Carson M.

I don't currently need to make a budget for the holidays since I only live with my spouse, no children. Our spending habits on the holidays are no different from our spending habits all year round, in fact we tend to only spend slightly more on specific holiday-inspired foods and maybe decor. We're not into gift buying, even for each other. Instead, we take advantage of the down time and try to focus on the true spirit of Christmas.

Guest's picture
Rebecca Hass

And, I've already "liked" your Facebook page!

Guest's picture
Jennifer

We budget $400 per year and contribute monthly to a special account we have set up in SmartyPig. Then we cash it out in Amazon gift cards. We usually go over this amount a little bit, but this way we can keep it around a certain dollar amount.

Plus we get the added value back with 3% + interest return on an Amazon card. We shop at Amazon a lot, so if we don't use it up on Christmas gifts we use it on other things we need.

Guest's picture
Tracy

Our budget is $600 a year, and has been since we started budgeting for Christmas. We just save $50/month all year. A certain amount of money is allotted to each family member, including shipping since we live so far away, but we don't necessarily spend that much on each person. We focus more on the gift, not the amount spent. My husband and I use whatever is left over to buy gifts for each other (we don't go too crazy with Christmas gifts for each other).

Guest's picture
Tracy

I'm a fan on facebook

Guest's picture
Kate

I don't have a budget, but I try to keep everything under control. Splitting gifts with family members always helps to cut costs!

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Alex

I am terrible about budgeting. Therefore, I have no holiday shopping budget. I really should though.

Guest's picture
renee

no set budget, per say, but we know what we want to spend.

Guest's picture
renee

like you on facebook

Guest's picture
Cheryl

I have a general budget and stick pretty close to it.

Guest's picture
Guest

We definitely have a budget this year. I've picked up some new items over at Goodwill a few times, Target and I'm making jammie pants to everyone to open Christmas Eve and a few things to get into the mail for daughter who is not coming home and her boyfriend...

Guest's picture
Susan

We definitely have a budget this year. I've picked up some new items over at Goodwill a few times, Target and I'm making jammie pants to everyone to open Christmas Eve and a few things to get into the mail for daughter who is not coming home and her boyfriend...

Guest's picture
Emily L

I don't have a set total budget, but I aim to spend a certain amount per person. I start my Christmas shopping months in advance so I can pick up good deals as I see them!

Guest's picture
Brandon

I usually do have a budget of about 20$ a friend and $50-$100 for family but since I just got a full time job i'll spend money on people that matter the most. I won't buy the most extravagant gifts but if it suits a particular person I won't not buy the gift if it's more than I'd want to pay.

Guest's picture
Emily L

I'm a Facebook fan!

Guest's picture
Emily L

And here's my Twitter comment: http://twitter.com/#!/walyxlime/status/144113101871132672

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j f

https://twitter.com/#!/64turok/status/144116995120566273

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j f

I liked you on fcb

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j f

I have a budget of around $200 because I am a poor college student!

Guest's picture
Guest

I have a per person budget for my own immediate family, and my husbands family uses a $10 per kid limit when we celebrate with them.

Guest's picture
Karen

Since I'm currently out of work, it's whatever we can scrape together after bills & food. So, not much of anything!

Guest's picture
Kelly E

Yes we do. My husband was laid off for a yr and recently started working again. We have to budget to stay on track! :)

Guest's picture

I just buy what I have the cash for, which is only for my 3 immediate family members.

Guest's picture
Lisa

There's no budget this year for the holidays. Gifts will be homemade...mostly edibles like cookies and candies. What we lack in money we'll make up for with love! <3

Guest's picture
Bryan

Of course we do, $40 per person. Every once in a while it's waived, but not without permission or careful planning.

Guest's picture

My family set a $3 limit on gifts between parents, siblings, and sibling SOs. It's quite a challenge, but the best part is that it gives me a budget of about $50!

Guest's picture

I'm sticking to immediately family only and have a budget of $100-$125 total (to buy for 5 people). It's small, but I'm still paying a lot toward credit card debt.

Guest's picture

I like WB on Facebook!

Guest's picture

Tweeted! https://twitter.com/#!/stretchjean/statuses/144141648379645953

Guest's picture
Geelock

Yes I have a holiday budget..its $500 and the kids get priority. I have 2 boys of my own and each gets a budget of $100...my girlfriend has two kids and they get a budget of $50 each...my brother has one boy he gets a budget of $50, my sister has 1 girl and she gets a budget of $50...leaves me with $100 left to buy my girlfriend a gift and any extra funds from the budget will be used to craft/bake/cook/build or anything that I can physically make and contribute to days festivities...I figure I should at least a little left over to bake a bread or cookies ;-)

Guest's picture
Guest

I save $5 per week throughout the year to pay for family members' gifts at x-mas time. If I didn't budget for gifts, it would be too easy to go overboard quickly with the spending. The $5/week system has worked out great for me for several years now. I will continue to do this to help pay for gifts during the holidays.

Guest's picture
Kelly K

We lost income, thus currently have no money to spare for christmas, and very little shopping done...If we had money I would have a budget of $800, and because I don't have money we have a budget, just not the one I had in mind.

Guest's picture
Razorbacks92

We have a very strict budget of $10 max per person this year. It is either that or nothing! We are in the final year's stretch of getting completely out of debt, so the budget is an absolute! I have been surprised at the fun gifts we have been able to buy everyone so far on such a limited budget. Shopping was easy and fun, and is certainly stress and guilt free!

Guest's picture
Carmen

We sort of have a budget - as in we have a goal to spend for each gift. Some end up a little bit more, but some end up less so it usually evens out to what we budgeted for.

Guest's picture
Carmen

I already liked you on Facebook

Guest's picture
Jenn

this is our first christmas as a married couple, we are keeping it pretty simple and want it to be special so we have allowed a $100 budget for each other and will keep it small for family.

Guest's picture
Michelle W

I have a "ballpark" budget that we will try to stick to. Things are pretty tight this year so we will have to be very creative on making what we have stretch as far as possible.

Guest's picture
Diane

Yes, sort of... I set aside $1000 from my tax refund each year & save it for Christmas gifts. I spend the most on my sons & boyfriend, with minimal gifts for adult family members and $10-15 for nieces & nephews. We don't exchange gifts with our friends. WE do buy a fresh tree, and host a family get together every year. If I spend anything over, it is all paid for in January as I don't carry credit card balances.

Guest's picture
RetireIn5

I don't really have a set budget, but I'm lucky that I have family and friends who prefer each others company over presents. Usually the only expenses I have are for foods and drinks and maybe something small for the host. So I get by with less than $100 for the season.

Guest's picture
Jennifer

I don't have a holiday budget, but that's because my family and I opted out of the frenzied gift shopping tradition a long time ago. Now the day is just for having good conversation and good food, and we're all much more relaxed!

Guest's picture
Jennifer

I like WB on FB.

Guest's picture
Diane

I already like you on fb~!

Guest's picture
TrishB

Well, I added up what I had intended to spend and discovered I couldn't afford it. Does that count?

Guest's picture
Steph

My holiday budget is based on whatever I have earned throughout the year taking online surveys and using swagbucks.com. In early November, I cash in all my points on these sites and buy gift cards to Amazon and other shopping sites. This year, I think we are only spending about $30 out of pocket on all of our gifts!

Guest's picture
Mar

I try 2 budget....but sometimes I have 2 ignore because of last minute wishesppp

Guest's picture
kath

I do have a set budget for Christmas shopping. It varies from year to year, depending on how many people I am buying for. Over the last several years, I have definitely reduced the amount of money I spend on gifts overall though. I buy stocking stuffers throughout the year, and when each of my granddaughters was born, I resisted the urge to go crazy with gifts, because I didn't want to set the bar so high that I wouldn't be able to sustain it when my other children start their families, so we buy each of them a savings bond, a Christmas ornament and I make up a stocking for each of them with small toys, candy and goodies.

Guest's picture
Guest

My wife and I limit our gift budgets for each other to about $50. We budget more for our kids and grandchild. The holidays are high pressure enough without going overboard on spending for stuff.

Guest's picture
Erica

I set an amount per person that I'm buying for and try to stay around the total.

Guest's picture
Erica

I liked you on FB!

Guest's picture

Yes, I've set up the budget. I haven't done a lick of the shopping yet but at least I know what I can spend. :)

Guest's picture

My holiday shopping budget is generalities, but this year it's around $350 simply because it's all I can afford.

Guest's picture
jm

my budget is $200 at only local stores, many of which friends own :)

Guest's picture
The one who likes to sleep

Yes, I've set a holiday gift budget (as well as a charitable gift budget) for the last 5 years. It helps to give me permission to spend down these amounts because I know that I've accounted for them theoughout the year. I'm thinking that my gift budget will go up this year b/c I just got engaged.

Guest's picture
Joan

Yes, I have a budget for Christmas. It's $275.00 and that has to cover gifts 5 people. I have already finished my shopping and kept within my budget.

Guest's picture
Lynda

i don't really have a budget for myself (which is bad) but i have budget for gifts, about 20 each depending on who it is.

Guest's picture
Lynda

i like wisebread on fb

Guest's picture
Lynda

tweeted https://twitter.com/#!/oshkoshbgosh123/status/144270501110484992

Guest's picture
BRB

Not a strict one, but I have a number that I try to stay within for each person.

Guest's picture
Therese

We have kind of a loose budget, in that we decide how much we want to spend based on what we want to buy. If we get good deals, though, we spend less.

Guest's picture
Valerie

No, I don't have a holiday budget. I am a saver by nature, and as I have two young children, I use this time to stock up on birthday party presents for the rest of the year!

Guest's picture
Melanie Bird

Yes I do! My family has decided not to give each other purchased gifts this year and instead spend a budgeted amount of money on making some cheap, yet heartfelt.

Guest's picture
Esha

$300 or under.... it is really hard not to want to buy everyone an kobo reader :(

Guest's picture
kristina

I have one, but I usually go over.

Guest's picture
Nick

I probably should have budgeted,but in lean years I was honest with my gift recipients letting them know that "some years are rough, some years are abundant." Through thick and thin, friends have stuck by me no matter the gifts (or lack of gifts) they received.

This year was an abundant year for me. I'm a fortunate man. I bought for 11 people, a total of 62 gifts and spent $4,512. Yes. That's a lot. However, I'm paying forward a favor. A couple years ago when I couldn't rub two nickles together, a dear friend gave me $1000 as a gift to "do something wild." I did do something wild; I applied it toward my staggering credit card debt & card loan debt ($62,000 at the time). This year, I paid off that debt in full and put away a chunk for retirement. In my friend's honor, I am gifting $1,000 to a friend to help pay down his debt.

I was also able to donate $500 to a local abused women's shelter. It has been a very good year for me, and while an atheist, I believe that good fortune should be spread around.

Next year I will budget Christmas more carefully.

Guest's picture
Christy

We do have a budget with different amounts for spouse and other family members or friends.

Guest's picture
Guest

I started it this year. It's $1200 for nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters, in-laws, uncle, aunts, friends kids, and spouse. That's the max so I'm hoping it comes out less.

Guest's picture
Keli

I am a college student and I only work 16 hours a week. I spend two days a week driving a little over 3 hours in one day going to school and work. This year my boyfriend had me sit down and make a list of everyone I wanted to shop for and then decide how much I wanted to spend on each person. That was really hard for me to do because I am so used to just shopping and buying things I know people will like. Now I have to stick to my budgets for every individual person. I have one more person to buy for and then I am done. I have stuck to my numbers pretty closely and only gone over by a dollar or so. With my boyfriend splitting the cost of family presents I managed to only spend $230. I did a lot of shopping on amazon and participated in black Friday. All in all I have had a very successful holiday shopping budget and I feel really good about it.

Guest's picture
Margaret Davis

My Christmas budget is established when my company issues our bonuses. Every paycheck is already accounted for so the bonus supplies us with Christmas. Thankfully I'm from a small family where the kids get presents and the adults trade home-made or less expensive "thinking of you" gifts.

Guest's picture
kristy t

Oh gosh yes. We have a grand total allowed AND a sub-budget for each individual AND a sub-budget for food/decorations/parties. We don't make a lot of money, so we have to use a budget to make sure that we can get gifts for everyone with the money we have (and avoid going into debt).

Guest's picture
Nancy B from Many LA

We don't have a budget, but we don't have many people to shop for anyway. It all depends on the situation; and how much money we have at the time. We don't use credit cards, so we never go in debt...

Guest's picture
Nancy B from Many LA

I've "Liked" you on FB for a while!

Guest's picture
Nancy B from Many LA

Tweeted
http://twitter.com/#!/goonyburd/status/144528814024835072

Guest's picture
Betty

I liked you and your post on Facebook.

Guest's picture
Betty

I completely failed at budgeting 101, but do remain frugal! So short answer, no budget for holiday spending.

Guest's picture
Betty

Responded on Twitter. https://twitter.com/#!/1bets1/status/144545859168776192

Guest's picture
Verl

Definitely have a budget. Only way to keep out of debt at Christmas!

Guest's picture
Crystal

We have a 1000 dollar budget for both sides of our family, I have gone slightly over, but no worries, it'll be all paid off by Christmas.

Guest's picture
Kathleen

Definitely. I have four teenagers at home. I can't just go out willy nilly spending money. I have a $200 limit per kid, and I shop for the best deals to stretch that $200 as far as I can.

Guest's picture
Jennifer

Sort of. $10 for assorted cousins (14 of them, children only), $50 for each niece or nephew (4 of them), $50 for parents, $30 for siblings (5 of them). I don't really have a budget with the husband. All these, of course, are approximate, and I go over or under by a little bit.

Guest's picture
Jennifer

Already liked on FB.

Guest's picture
Rebecca B. A. R.

I buy throughout the year, so I really don't have a total budget. I try not to spend more then $10 a person, except for my husband and my brother. This year I'll only be spending less then $25 on my husband, since our budget is really tight.

Guest's picture
Rebekah

We have an amount per person to spend. We actually set a gift budget at the beginning of the year, for both birthdays/special occasions and Christmas. We don't always suceed in coming in under budget, but having a number helps us curb our spending.

Guest's picture
Liz

Yes, I do have a holiday budget for 3 reasons: 1) I recently moved into a new place and rent is a bit higher than the last place therefore I need to be money-conscious more than ever and spend less overall on unnecessary items, 2) I am much more of a giver than a receiver and MUST set a budget or else I'm all over the place, and 3) Worst of all, I'm slightly addicted to shopping :o) If you are in the same situation(s) I am, I recommend setting a holiday budget ASAP! The end.

Guest's picture
Dee Dee

I open a Christmas Club account at the bank each year for five hundred dollars and then budget an additional two hundred in.

Guest's picture
NJJ

Yes, I have a budget! My budget is usually $10 a gift. If I can't find it for that price its usually something no one really needs! No, I'm not cheap but most of my friends and family don't like present-based Christmas, so practical gifts and group outings/activities are usually preferred to gifts :)

Guest's picture
Emily

We have a budget, a squeaky-tight one this year.

Guest's picture
Jennifer

I save $500 in a Christmas account all year long. All my gifts are purchased out of that account.