Lower Your Expenses

How to Budget for Special Occasions

Listen Money Matters is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. How we make money.
Table of Contents  
  1. Show Notes

Whether it’s a holiday, a birthday or an anniversary, we all have special days to celebrate.  Find out how to do it up without spending too much.

It’s easy to budget for the expected holidays but what about the random co-worker birthday, the niece’s confirmation?  Rather than budgeting “X” for each event, set a dollar amount on how much you spend on each gift.  If you’re giving a check as a gift, make sure to log it somewhere in case the recipient doesn’t cash it right away.

Be more selective about what holidays you give gifts for.  Come home without an anniversary gift and you might be in some trouble.  But do you and your significant other really need to buy each other Sweetest Day gifts?  That is a made up holiday.  Focus on the big ones.

Have a frank discussion with your extended family.  Once you have a significant other, the number of people you are expected to buy gifts for can increase exponentially.  It’s unfair to be expected to buy a gift for your seven nieces and nephews when you don’t have children.  If your family doesn’t suck I’m sure they would rather have you at the family event without a present than dodging the get-togethers because you don’t have the budget to buy endless gifts.

If you want to give a gift but can’t spend a ton of money, there are some great alternatives.  You can get together with other family members and buy one more expensive gift that everyone has chipped in on rather than a dozen smaller gifts.  Or you can buy one gift for the entire family, like a board game they can all play together.  Making a gift is thoughtful and more meaningful than some chotchke from Target.

Or my dream, get together with your family and all agree to not buy anyone a gift.  Everyone goes out to a nice dinner together.  More fun, less money, and no crappy bread maker collecting dust in the back of your closet.

Keep the spirit of the holidays and special occasions.  They are meant to be a happy time spent with family and friends, not getting trampled in Walmart on Black Friday.  You’ll save money and avoid finding yourself on People of Walmart.

Show Notes

Mint:  Budget your special occasion expenses.

Candice Elliott - Senior Editor
Candice Elliott is a substantial contributor to Listen Money Matters. She has been a personal finance writer since 2013 and has written extensively on student loan debt, investing, and credit. She has successfully navigated these areas in her own life and knows how to help others do the same. Candice has answered thousands of questions from the LMM community and spent countless hours doing research for hundreds of personal finance articles. She happily calls New Orleans, Louisiana home-the most fun city in the world.

What's next?

learn course podcast popular toolbox