5 tips for creating (and sticking to) a holiday budget

September 26, 2022

Bring your joy level up and your stress level down with these money management tools.


Before you create a budget for your holiday spending make sure you’ve created an overall budget for you and your family. Having something written down (on paper or online) can go a long way to helping ease your concerns about overspending, especially during the holidays when other stresses may come into play.

A good place to start when creating a holiday budget is with your mobile banking app. On the go banking lets you check your balance before you make a purchase (you can also set alerts to let you know when your account gets below a certain amount.) Plus, you can use it to pay bills, deposit checks, and the digital wallet is very helpful during the holidays when you want to split the cost of a gift or a meal out with friends.

Now that you have a good tool in place to help you spend wisely, here’s how to create a budget:

1. Set a spending limit: Be realistic and only spend what you can afford. If possible, try to spend from your available savings rather than borrowing. If you haven’t set aside money for this year, consider getting an early start for next year. You can create a separate savings account just for your holiday budget. Even setting aside a few dollars every month can help..

If you don’t have a dedicated holiday account, then think about other sources of money. Maybe your company will give a holiday or year-end bonus? You might also consider ways to adjust your spending by cutting back on household and personal items. For example, maybe you splurge for a pumpkin spice latte once a week instead of daily? 

2. List what you plan to buy and how much you plan to spend: A good starting point is to look at what you spent last year. Try to be as specific as possible with your list, assigning a dollar figure to everything. It’s also helpful to assign a priority to items (low, medium and high) so that if you need to cut back you know where to start. And make sure to include a line item for “other” expenses that may come up unexpectedly. 

3. Make adjustments: If you do find your expenses are greater than your available funds, it’s time to get creative. The first step is to cut back where you can on the lower priority items. You can also turn to DIY projects for gift giving and be creative with wrapping; throw a potluck instead of a catered dinner; and drive to meet up with family instead of flying or renting a car.

If your budget is still out of whack, consider ways to raise funds like selling items that you no longer use, taking a seasonal job; or earning money by renting out a room in your house or your RV. 

4. Keep track of your spending: This is where your app can really come into play. Use your digital banking tool, like Money Tracker in the U.S. Bank Mobile App, to monitor your spending so you don't blow your budget. It’s super easy to use and can be especially helpful while you’re waiting in line for the next available cashier. You can also set up notifications and alerts if your balance gets to a certain point or if you’re spending too much in one category.

Other tactics include using prepaid cards or cash instead of credit or debit cards to help you stick to your limit. But if you do use a credit card, consider using a cash-back or rewards card that gives you the best perks for holiday shopping.

Another great way to stay on track is to work with a friend as your budget buddy. For example, you might ask if you can check in with them before making an online purchase to give yourself a cooling off period. 

5. Enjoy your time with friends and family: Finally, make sure to enjoy yourself. The holidays are a time to focus on friends, family and a bright future. If you were able to stick to your budget, congratulations. But don’t get down on yourself if you struggled at bit. Instead use it as a learning opportunity. If you overspent in one area, then you can tweak your budget for next year. If you blew your budget completely, you can get help by speaking with your banker about paying down your debt and how to save more money ahead of time for next year.


The U.S. Bank Mobile App can help you view all your accounts in one place. The app and the U.S. Bank Smart Assistant ™ are available in the language you prefer. Just open the app menu, select settings and go to Language to choose English or Español.

Related content

What you need to know about renting

What financial advice would you give your younger self?

Tips to raise financially healthy kids at every age

The mobile app to download before summer vacation

Consolidating debts: Pros and cons to keep in mind

How to manage your money when you're self-employed

Using 529 plans for K-12 tuition

How grandparents can contribute to college funds instead of buying gifts

7 financial questions to consider when changing jobs

6 common money mistakes to avoid

How to start investing to build wealth

Retirement income planning: 4 steps to take

Webinar: Mindset Matters: How to practice mindful spending

What’s in your emergency fund?

How I did it: Turned my side hustle into a full-time job

Adulting 101: How to make a budget plan

How to build credit as a student

Co-signing 101: Applying for a loan with co-borrower

Don’t underestimate the importance of balancing your checking account

Starting your homebuying journey: Tips from a U.S. Bank Goals Coach

Family planning for the LGBTQ+ community

How to gain financial independence from your parents

Should you buy now, pay later?

Bank from home with these digital features

How to increase your savings

Practical money skills and financial tips for college students

4 tips to help you save for retirement in your 20s

Helpful tips for safe and smart charitable giving

Talent acquisition 101: Building a small business dream team

Money Moments: 8 dos and don’ts for saving money in your 30s

3 ways to keep costs down at the grocery store (and make meal planning fun)

Do your investments match your financial goals?

6 pandemic money habits to keep for the long term

Year-end financial checklist

How to discuss money with your family

7 ways for pre-retirees to get ready for retirement

Stay committed to your goals by creating positive habits

5 things to consider when deciding to take an unplanned trip

Your financial aid guide: What are your options?

How to get started creating your business plan

How having savings gives you peace of mind

What to do when you lose your job

Make your business legit

Dear Money Mentor: How do I set and track financial goals?

I own two electric vehicles. Here’s what I’ve learned about buying and driving EVs.

9 simple ways to save

Credit: Do you understand it?

5 financial goals for the new year

Allowance basics for parents and kids

How to track your spending patterns

How to manage your money: 6 steps to take

A beginner's guide to investing

Investment strategies by age

A who’s who at your local bank

Finding a side gig to fund your goals

Military homeownership: Your guide to resources, financing and more

Working with an accountability partner can help you reach your goals

How I did it: Joined a board of directors

5 tips for being a great board member

30-day adulting challenge: Financial wellness tasks to complete in a month

Friction: How it can help achieve money goals

How to talk to your lender about debt

How I did it: My house remodel

How to build wealth at any age

How to use your unexpected windfall to reach financial goals

Money management guide to financial independence

Home buying myths: Realities of owning a home

Certificates of deposit: How they work to grow your money

What military service taught me about money management

Improving your credit score: Truth and myths revealed

Tips for working in the gig economy

How to best handle unexpected expenses

Financial gifts can be a valuable – and fun – choice for the holidays

Webinar: Smart habits and behaviors to achieve financial wellness

Practical money tips we've learned from our dads

Key components of a financial plan

5 tips for creating (and sticking to) a holiday budget

What I learned from my mom about money

Your 4-step guide to financial planning

Stay on budget — and on the go — with a mobile banking app

Financial checklist: Preparing for military deployment

U.S. Bank asks: Transitioning out of college life? What’s next?

How to financially prepare for a military PCS

Here’s how to create a budget for yourself

How to use debt to build wealth

Achieving their dreams through a pre-apprenticeship construction program

Transitioning from the military to the civilian workforce

How I did it: Deciding whether to buy an RV

How to decide when to shop local and when to shop online

Checklist: financial recovery after a natural disaster

How I kicked my online shopping habit and got my spending under control

Personal loans first-timer's guide: 7 questions to ask

How I did it: Bought a home without a 20 percent down payment

Growing your savings by going on a ‘money hunt’

Multiple accounts can make it easier to follow a monthly budget

You can take these 18 budgeting tips straight to the bank

Are savings bonds still a thing?

How I did it: Learned to budget as a single mom

How to stop living paycheck to paycheck post-pay increase

Money Moments: Tips for selling your home

Parent checklist: Preparing for college

Does your savings plan match your lifestyle?

Do you and your fiancé have compatible financial goals?

How to establish your business credit score

8 Ways for small business owners to manage their cash flow

Checklist: 10 questions to ask your home inspector

Webinar: Common budget mistakes (and how to avoid them)

5 reasons why couples may have separate bank accounts

7 steps: How couples and single parents can prepare for child care costs

How can I help my student manage money?

How to manage money in the military: A veteran weighs in

How to save for a wedding

How to save money while helping the environment

It's possible: 7 tips for breaking the spending cycle

Personal finance for teens can empower your child

Save time and money with automatic bill pay

Tips to overcome three common savings hurdles

Webinar: Uncover the cost: Wedding

Building a financial legacy for your family and community

U.S. Bank asks: Do you know what an overdraft is?

U.S. Bank asks: Do you know your finances?

Spring cleaning checklist for your home: 5 budget-boosting tasks

Webinar: Uncover the cost: Building a home

Are professional movers worth the cost?

Webinar: Uncover the cost: Home renovation

Beyond the mortgage: Other costs for homeowners

How to Adult: 5 ways to track your spending

11 essential things to do before baby comes

Webinar: Uncover the cost: Starting a family

Preparing for adoption and IVF

Closing on a house checklist for buyers

How to prepare for a natural disaster

College budgeting: When to save and splurge

Webinar: Uncover the cost: College diploma

How to save money in college: easy ways to spend less

The A to Z’s of college loan terms

5 things to know before accepting a first job offer

How I did it: Paid off student loans

Webinar: Bank Notes: College cost comparison

How you can prevent identity theft

U.S. Bank asks: What do you know about credit?

Is a home equity loan for college the right choice for your student

How to apply for federal student aid through the FAFSA

Be careful when taking out student loans

7 tips to help grow your business after launch

How to test new business ideas

Costs to consider when starting a business

How to redefine challenges with business collaboration

How to sell your business without emotions getting in the way

10 tips on how to run a successful family business

How to accept credit cards online

How to build a content team

Start of disclosure content

Loan approval is subject to credit approval and program guidelines. Not all loan programs are available in all states for all loan amounts. Interest rate and program terms are subject to change without notice. Mortgage, home equity and credit products are offered by U.S. Bank National Association. Deposit products are offered by U.S. Bank National Association. Member FDIC.