18 Money Mistakes I Made During The Holidays


It’s time for a little confession. Okay, here it goes – my budgeting (and especially my spending) was sorta off-balance during the holidays.

I am talking from end of November until now. Gasp! I know! I am sure most of you did better, but hey, I believe in honesty, so I was willing to admit it. So, in an effort to learn from my mistakes, I decided to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and write down all the ways that I went off. Are you ready? Here they are –

1. I Went Shopping While Hungry.Never shop on an empty stomach or while hungry quote

My mom used to tell us ‘Never shop while hungry.’ I’m still learning that. When I shop hungry, it takes 2 hours more and I spend about $20-30 more. Pro-tip – grab a snack before shopping, it helps.

2. I Used My Debit Card.

WHAT?? That is bad? YEP, it is when your ‘spending personality’ never checks the bank balance. Give me cash that can run out, and I know TO A PENNY how much I have and what it is allotted to! Make sure you are using whatever method works for you. For me cash helps me track better, for others it may be envelopes, debit card, multiple accounts, a nosy friend to keep you accountable.

3. I Bought Food at the Gas Store.

You know, on the way home from work or on the way to work – Oh, I’ll just grab a quick snack… and $20 later you have $2 of gas and $18 of snacks, mainly chips and a soda. And I did this several times (okay, several times a week).

4. I Didn’t Meal Plan. 

Probably because I was shopping hungry or I was too stressed to care. Maybe I was just too tired. When I meal plan, I make sure that there is enough food in the house for the week (to prevent us from eating out), that the meals take 20 minutes or less to make and that we use the same ingredients in several ways. It cuts down on waste and spending if I am able to properly meal prep. Money saving tips - plan your meals!

5. I Paid Savings Last.

Our money is always used up, we don’t have ‘extra’ at the end of the month, either food budget grows or we buy more gifts. Now, we are very good at ignoring our savings and not spending it, we just need to get it INTO the savings. So, we need to pay savings FIRST by making sure that it is auto deposited. From now on – savings first, food budget second.

Matrix Biolage Shampoo and Conditioner Set6.  I Didn’t Buy The Gift Sets.

I have never seen anyone give shampoo or body wash for Christmas gifts, but there it is every year – shampoo/conditioner gift sets, usually about $5-10 less than what I would normally spend for the same thing. I meant to stock up on these household necessities, but forgot and had to buy them at full price after the holidays. Yes, 3 days after the gift sets were gone.

7. I Didn’t Use Coupons.

Every fast food place send weekly coupons in the mail. Every fast food place also has mobile coupon apps or text message coupons. So carry them the coupons with you or on your phone, it brings dinner for the family down from $25 to closer to $10-12. That’s huge! Think of the monthly savings! Pro-tip – play a mental game with yourself, try to keep any eating out under $8.

8. I Used Wrapping Paper Instead of Re-using Bags.

We had a baby shower recently, and I was surprised to realize not all of the gift bags were baby-blue colors with diaper pins on them, some were just blue or some other neutral color. I loved this!! Yes, I used them as Christmas bags and didn’t have to buy MORE wrapping paper. From now, on I am only using bags that can be re-gifted, I hated wrapping paper anyway – it takes too long to wrap to just have the paper thrown away right after the gifts are opened.

9. I Didn’t Buy (AND PACK) Enough Snacks. When i forget to meal plan or pack snacks I get hungry and angry. Hangry, it's a thing

I am pregnant and a diabetic – which means I am on a eating schedule, and if that schedule gets off, well, you will have a monster on your hands. You know how mom’s of toddlers seem to over pack snacks just in case? I should do the same. This goes hand in hand with #3. If you pack your snacks, you stay on your diet, in your budget and you will keep the “hangry monster” at bay.

10. I Left the Heater On.

We have 2 space heaters in our garage for our outside cats, to try to give them a little warmth. However, here in Phoenix, the heater only needs to be on during the night and can be turned off during the day. We forgot… for a full week! And our electricity cost doubled for that week. That was painful! I am sure you have something similar that you could turn off and just forgot.

11. I Bought Bottled Water!

We can go through two 24 cases in a week, so that is $5-$7 used on bottled water. Then my husband found out about gallon water from water stores. On sale day, which for our nearby store is Sunday and Wednesday, water is $0.25 a gallon. Hubby fills up 30 gallons of water (for about $7.50) and it lasts us 2-3 weeks. He bought the 10 gallon drums and a fridge water container with a spout. For the win!

12. I Didn’t Buy Early… again! finance and budget quotes

I really need to start buying gifts through the year, or at least starting in November. I always put it off and put it off, and then spend double trying to get it last minute. Oh I had the list, I just didn’t make time to go out before the week of Christmas.

13. I Didn’t Get Enough Sleep.

Yes, it increases spending, it’s called stress spending or trying-to-stay-awake spending. AKA – caffeine! I can spend $1.75 at the soda machine a day or even $3 at the coffee shop a day … or I can get more sleep. And that is just the caffeine, I also tired-eat. That is even more wasted money.

14. I Bought Holiday Candy.

Not good for anyone’s health, I know, but if you wait until after the holidays, it is 75% off. However, if you need it pre-holidays, the non-holiday editions are about ½ the price of the holiday candies, why not go for the normal kind and put it in a holiday dish?

15. I Didn’t Buy Holiday Decorations On Sale. 

This should have been done in Jan a year ago for this year. Again, everything goes on sale for 75%, so plan ahead and buy in Jan for the next year.

16. I Didn’t Give Money Away. give more money and energy during the holidays

It is so easy to walk by people and ignore their needs. But it is also just as easy to pay attention and give a little away. I wish I had given more this year, I wish my blessings had flowed more to others rather than just to my family.


17. I Stressed Too Much.

Yes, attitude matters and can hinder or attract blessings. I should have changed my attitude and focused on my blessings and chose to stick to the budget.

18. I Chose Not To Focus On The Budget.

Yes, I intentionally ignored the principles and wisdom I knew so that I could get by with less planning and more thoughtless spending. And because I chose it, I am now having to be honest and confess it. Soooo, DON’T DO WHAT I DID, make a commitment to stick to your values and your goals instead of lapsing back into your old way of thinking and spending.

But I want to hear from you – how did you do this holiday with sticking to the budget and being intentional with your finances? Leave a comment below to share your experiences with us!

Check out my other blogs on budgeting –

4 Tips to Make The Money Talks As Easy As Getting Fast Food For Dinner!

What I Wish I Knew About Finances When I Was In College

How to Stay In Peace While Pursuing Goals 

Thinking of getting into a side hustle? Check out these options –

15 Reasons You Should Join The #SideHustle Game

40 Ways to Make Extra Income For the Holidays, part 1 

8 More Side Jobs To Give You Financial Freedom… (and all of them include working with kids!)

More Ways To Make Extra Income For The Holidays, part 2

40 MORE Side Incomes To Invest In (and Grow Into a REAL Business!)

Subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss our last blog in the side income recommendations series. Yes, I include affiliate links in my blogs, it helps me get paid for what I love to do. Thanks for being the patron of your favorite writer!  Lydia




21 thoughts on “18 Money Mistakes I Made During The Holidays

  1. It is so hard to stay on track during the holidays. Trust me, you aren’t the only one who fell off the wagon a bit last month ;).

  2. We actually did well in December on our plan to cut our normal expenses and get back within our monthly budget. We, unfortunately, went over on the holiday gift budget a little. So all in all, it was a win-loss.

    1. Thank you! I agree, I used to turn my nose up a little at coupons, mainly out of laziness… But when I started monitoring my spending very closely, I had to figure out a way to make $20 of spending cash last a week, I became a fan of them! I can almost double the food we get if I use coupons/apps from the restraurants.

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