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Money Tip: Agree on a Holiday Spending Cap

We're used to settling on pre-set limits for things like office Secret Santas and Pollyanna gift exchanges with girlfriends, so why not make it a rule this holiday season? Contact the people on your long or short list and ask how they might feel about putting a cap on holiday spending this year.

Do some preparation before you make the call by creating an overall budget for yourself, and determine how much you can afford to spend on each person. When you make the suggestion, say something along these lines: "I'm so excited to exchange gifts and spend time together, and I was thinking it might be a good idea to set a spending limit this year. How would you feel about giving each other gifts that don't cost more than [fill in a dollar amount]?"

Nobody is going to feel like you're pulling a cheap trick in this economy, and they may very well be relieved at your suggestion. Have you agreed on any spending limits so far?


Join The Conversation
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
we haven't set up a spending cap but my man and i have made it clear that we're kind in a financial crunch and we won't be able to really get things this year. i think that for us though, and our family/friends - we realize that it's not about the gift but about the time that you spend with each other so we're really going to make an effort to be more involved in each other's lives - especially during the holiday season.
Spectra Spectra 8 years
We pretty much have sort of "implied" rules about gifts in our family. We all exchange gifts amongst each other and we usually spend $25-$50 per gift. No one ever really complains and we all have a good time.
barbiesugar barbiesugar 8 years
For inexpensive gifts I head to places like lohmans, or i hit the sale rack at bloomies. I bought my two best friends each lesportsac wallets, i also managed to get my friend a metalic splendid mini dress and a matching necklace for under 50. but aside from that i have a rather small family and i only need to buy gifts for my best friends, and i just make little holiday candy bags for my close friends.
margokhal margokhal 8 years
Definitely this year, even if there wasn't a financial situation, my holiday budget is $0. I just don't have it, especially after these grad school applications @_@ Most of my friends and associates and I don't really buy each other gifts. Sometimes we do swaps, or if we get something, it's really small - like candy or cups with hot chocolate mix. White elephant parties are an amazing thing to do instead of Secret Santa!
TidalWave TidalWave 8 years
i've always done this with my significant other. we would rather just spend time with each other or go out and do something together rather than have lots of "stuff" anyway.
dcfashionista dcfashionista 8 years
I have a set limit for all the people on my list. I love the $5 and below store and they have great items. I also shop at stores that offer deep discounts and coupons.
Dhorwich Dhorwich 8 years
I have 3 siblings, 2 in-law, 2 parents and a nephew on the way. I tried to get everyone to scale back this year - we do a 'large' gift exchange as well as a Secret Santa Stocking Stuffer. It adds up so I tried to get people to scale back (the income for each person varies, greatly in my family) but the most well-off people want to give whatever they want so there was no cutting back. Thankfully they're happy to be givers and receive anything that I can afford to give them and truly mean it. It should work out well - we're all truly just glad to be together.
True-Song True-Song 8 years
It also helps to plan out what you need to buy for everyone. I make a list of everyone I need to buy for, list their gifts and the cost. That way $50 and $100 here and there can't sneak up on you. I make the list before I buy anything so I know what my total cost for the holidays will be.
lawchick lawchick 8 years
my husband and I always do this with each other - last year for Christmas we spent $150 on each other. I ended up spending a little less on him, and he spent a little more on me, but it was close enough. we're not doing gifts for each other for Christmas this year because we're saving up to have a baby :)
Fitness Fitness 8 years
My hubbie and I always try to do this and both of us end up going over the allotted amount. This year maybe it will stick.
psterling psterling 8 years
This year my hubby and I did our shopping early (last weekend) and hit up the local Ross and TJ Maxx. We found lots of great stuff that each recipient would love and only ended up spending a fraction of what we would have at a major retailer. And since we did it early nothing had been picked-over yet.
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