8 Ways to Manage Your Holiday Finances

In the midst of holiday shopping, it’s easy to lose sight of your budget. These eight tips can help you keep control and avoid a financial headache in the new year.

The holidays: There are few other times of year when it’s so easy to go on a spending spree, losing sight of your budget and your big picture financial plan. That can lead to a serious financial hangover come January. But with these eight top tips for planning and tracking your holiday shopping, you can enter the new year in good cheer — and sound financial shape.


  1. Set a limit. Determine in advance how much you can really afford to spend. Consider your other expenses and income for the time period, and decide how much of your savings you’re willing to tap.
  2. Build a budget. Holiday expenses go beyond gifts to include greeting cards, decorations, food, entertainment, travel and more. List your spending categories, and then split your total holiday allowance among them. Use a simple spreadsheet or download a budgeting or tracking app to your smartphone.
  3. Prioritize. Decide which items on your list are essential and which are not. For instance, a certain gift for your child may be a must-have, while a holiday wreath may be simply nice to have. As you shop, work your way down your priorities as funds allow.
  4. Plan your credit use. If you use credit cards this season, stick to your budget and have a plan to pay down that debt quickly. Also, use cards that make financial sense. For instance, Rabobank’s Visa® Bonus Rewards and Visa® Bonus Rewards PLUS cards offer competitive interest rates, fraud protection and benefits such as cash back.
  5. Scope out the deals. Sign up with your favorite stores to receive coupons and sale alerts via email or text, so you can plan your shopping to get the most bang for your bucks. You could also take advantage of the season’s mega-deal days — from Thanksgiving through the following Monday.


  1. Check it off. To avoid over-buying and to help keep your priorities straight, check items off your list as you make purchases.
  2. Record daily. By tracking your expenses immediately, you’ll readily notice if you’re getting close to your budget limits. Then you can back off or readjust before slipping over the edge. For instance, you might decide to simply skip some of the lower priority items on your list. Or you might opt to give your budget a cash infusion by temporarily doing without some everyday indulgences (like eating lunch out).
    Consider downloading the Rabobank mobile app, which lets you check your account balances and recent transactions on the go.
  3. Use cash. One of the simplest ways to stay within your budget is to simply use cash. You can withdraw the full amount of your holiday budget, and then divide the money into different envelopes based on your original spending categories. When an envelope is empty, you know you’ve reached your limit!


  1. “9 Tips for Making, Sticking to a Holiday Budget,” by Lisa Bertagnoli, CreditCards.com, updated Nov. 21, 2012, http://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/9-tips-sticking-holiday-budget-1280.php, accessed Oct. 16, 2014
  2. “7 Tips to Keep Your Holiday Spending in Check,” by Betty Wang, JD, FindLaw, posted Nov. 29, 2013, http://blogs.findlaw.com/law_and_life/2013/11/7-tips-to-keep-your-holiday-spending-in-check.html, accessed Oct. 16, 2014

The information contained in this article is intended for general educational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal, tax, or financial advice. Please consult with your own legal, tax or financial advisor for guidance with your own particular circumstances.

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