Stretching out the paycheck for christmas

One of the many issues more families are facing during the holiday season is the problem of making the paycheck last over Christmas. While a simple statement of balancing the budget and avoiding credit may be enough for some, the answers are not that simplistic.

Shopping Tips

When it comes to shopping during Christmas, making the paycheck last seems near impossible. Here are a few tips that may help.

  • Set limits - set a number, write it down, put it everywhere; then don't spend over it
  • The Care List - write a list of the people you really care about; buy gifts for these people and send the rest a card
  • Make lists - keep making lists; this gives you a concrete idea of the who, what, why and how much
  • Plan the route - before you leave to shop, plan the route to use the most effective means possible; plan the most expensive store last so there is enough left for everything else
  • Gift Certificates - use gift certificates for people who are hard to buy for


Making the paycheck last over Christmas will most likely mean limiting spending. If you are on a tight budget, this may seem rather hard to do. With this in mind, here are a few suggestions:

  • One person, one present - make a family rule that each person receives one present from each family member
  • Hat Pick - an alternate method to gift giving is to have everyone pick a name from a hat; this would be the person you are buying for this year.
  • Spend cash, not credit - go back to the old simple rule where if you don't have the cash, its too expensive to buy right now.
  • Off-brands - try using a rule where 50% of what you purchase is not a name brand.
  • Use receipts to track spending - keep all the receipts and add them up at the end of the week; use this to keep a tight focus on what you have to spend

Out of Season Ideas

With the attempt at making the paycheck last, especially over the Christmas season, it is a good idea to look for sales; but how do you look? When and where it isn't Christmas

  • Pre-season - some interesting bargains can be found in the week before Christmas because merchants are looking to unload holiday items.
  • After Christmas - everything is on sale the day and week after Christmas; grab all the holiday items needed for next year this year.
  • Yearlong - picking up items throughout the year does spread out the expense; buying one or two gifts each month helps hold the bottom line.

Other Ideas

And for other ways to make the paycheck last over Christmas, check this list out:

  • Make and bake presents - giving home crafted presents always means something more
  • Give time as a present - give time to family and friends
  • Guard your identity - if you do use plastic, be wary of identity theft; get a copy of your credit report in January or February to check for possible unknown charges
  • Give an education - start a college fund, give books, offer training
  • Create free fun - throw a party at home for family and/or friends; go caroling; enjoy the time being with people

Any one of these ideas will help stretch the paycheck over the Christmas season.