Start Saving Now

We can all relate to the mixed-emotions of the holiday season. There’s an element of joy and anticipation, but not without financial stress when it comes to budgeting for the excessive amount of spending.

Nicole Smith posing with the Holiday Spending on a Merry Little Budget promotional poster.


Nicole Smith was the speaker at the workshop titled Holiday Spending on a Merry Little Budget for the Student Money Management Center. She designed the PowerPoint, gave the speech she created to 70+ students, and led a hands-on holiday gift craft. 

The event took place in the Lowman Student Center at Sam Houston State University and covered topics like saving for the holidays, budgeting Christmas expenses, and discussing how much of a person’s annual income should go towards Christmas presents and decorations. 

Together, students calculated their salary, determined how much they could spend based on their income, and completed their own budgeting worksheets for holiday expenses. Most financial planners recommend that one percent of your annual income is the maximum amount to be spent on Christmas. This includes food, decorations, presents, and gift wrapping. People are often surprised by this number, but could greatly benefit from budgeting with this limit in mind. 

This craft consisted of clear ornaments, hot cocoa mix, M&Ms, marshmallows, and ribbon.

The students were also able to create their own giftable hot chocolate Christmas ornament using clear ornaments, hot cocoa mix, favorite candy, marshmallows, and ribbon. This is a particularly great idea when gifting for large groups of people like sorority sisters, church groups, or campus organization members! 

Here are some tips for the holidays:

  • Start saving for Christmas now!
  • Purchase a couple gift cards every month throughout the entire year to use either as gifts or to purchase gifts closer to Christmas.
  • Plan on limiting your holiday expenses to only 1% of your annual salary.
  • Create a budget that accounts for all Christmas expenses including items often overlooked like wrapping paper, bows, ugly sweaters, wreaths, etc. 
  • Create a list of everyone you plan to purchase or make gifts for and the maximum amount that can be spent on each person. Stick to this budget! If necessary, cut back other expenses or widdle down your present list. 
  • Consider making heartfelt gifts instead of making large purchases.
  • Avoid shopping-as-you-go since this can lead to overspending. Plan your purchases and shopping trips ahead of time.
  • Be cautious with using credit cards to make large purchase.
  • Layout all of your purchased gifts and keep a list of what you’ve bought and who they’re for in order to avoid shopping amnesia. 

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