Candy at Halloween, elaborate meals at Thanksgiving, gifts for all throughout December’s festive season, travel costs to get to family gatherings—there’s no doubt about it, the holidays are expensive.

What can you do to recover from this year’s holiday expenses? We’ve got several tips to help you make more money, recoup costs, and plan ahead for next year.

Up Your Career Game

If you need more money to cover your holiday bills, why not look for a higher-paying job? January and February are among the best months to look for a job. Why? The hustle and bustle of the holiday season has passed and companies are eager to get a jump on their plans for the new year—many companies make New Year’s resolutions of sorts, just like you do. If those plans include new hires, you are in luck.

Don’t forget to look for openings even within your current company. Your boss is well aware that internal promotions are less expensive than new hires, and their familiarity with the company and its culture eliminate the need for time consuming onboarding sessions.

Start a Side Hustle

Side Hustle entrepreneur Nick Loper recommends “erasing” your bills one by one by developing alternative income streams. You can start a side hustle to pay off your holiday expenses or to save up for next year. 

To determine a good side hustle, think about what you are already good at and you already have the equipment for—a car for delivery driving, graphic design skills and a computer, or an affinity for dog walking, for example. Then, join a program that connects you with customers or set out on your own as a freelancer.

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You can even develop passive income streams by selling items on repeat. For example, you might set up a print-on-demand shop, sell stock photos, or write a book for distrubution through Amazon.


Recouping costs means getting some of your money back whenever you spend. There are a few methods of recouping some of your expenses. For example, you could:

    • Return unwanted gifts for a refund of the purchase price
    • Sell unwanted gifts on Ebay, Poshmark, Mercari, or a similar marketplace.
    • Use a cash back app whenever you make purchases. When shopping online, install a browser extension such as Rakuten or Retail Me Not. When shopping in store, try out Ibotta or Fetch. You may receive anywhere from a few cents back or the entire purchase price of certain items.
    • Reduce your expenses. If you have credit card bills to pay, you may have to sacrifice spending in another category in order to cover them. Limit expenses that are not necessities—for example, temporarily forgo satisfying your fashion fix, make your own coffee, or brown bag it at lunch time instead of eating out. You can also examine your monthly subscriptions and cancel any that are seldom used. 

Plan Ahead for Next Year

One of the best ways to limit the sting of holiday spending is to plan ahead. These tips can help you prepare for next year.

Make a Budget, and Stick to It

Budgeting is one of the easiest ways to prevent overspending. Make a list of how much money you make every much and how much you expect to spend on necessary things like rent, utilities, food, and transportation. After you’ve listed your bills, see how much you have left.

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Try setting something aside each month to beef up your holiday budget. You could even put cash in a literal envelope to prevent it from being spent on something else.

Once you’ve made a budget, you must resolve to stick to it. Don’t let emotions of nostalgia or social pressures induce you to spend more than you’ve set aside. You may not be able to purchase as many or as expensive of gifts as you would like, but you will afford yourself the gift of a debt-free new year.

Reduce, Regift, Recycle

If you’ve ever planned a wedding, you likely remember narrowing your guest list to fit your venue and budget. You can do something similar with holiday spending. Instead of purchasing a gift for everyone you know, make a list of the people who mean the most to you. 

Not every gift has to be purchased. Perhaps you have been given candles or kitchen appliances that you’ve never used—Miss Manners calls regifting “a holiday tradition.” You can also consider making gifts, whether it’s a batch of cookies, an upcycled boardgame, a birdfeeder make from a wine bottle, or something else. 

Key Takeaways

Retailers love the festive season because people open their wallets to make often extravagant purchases. You can recover from this year’s costs by obtaining a higher-paying job and saving money where you can. Plan ahead for next year by making a budget and being thoughtful yet thrifty in your gift-giving habits.

Your holidays are sure to be happier when they don’t break the bank.