How To Stay Within Your Holiday Budget

   Yes – it Can be Done with these Secrets!
 By Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA CMP

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For some doctors and many Americans, the holiday season is all about excess, and all the gifts, travel, drinks, decadent food, and party dresses can leave a gaping hole in your personal finances. And so, as a Certified Medical Planner, I know that a holiday budget is a helpful tool for managing your spending during the holiday season, so that you don’t start out the New Year in the red. Of course, a holiday budget is only effective if you stick with it, and these shopping tips can help you do just that.


Shorten your gift list

Sure, the holiday season is about generosity, but that doesn’t mean you need  to buy an extravagant gift for everyone on the neighborhood block or office floor. Gifts are easily one of the largest expense categories during the holiday season, so the fewer gifts you have to buy; the easier it is to stay within your holiday budget. When times are tight, it’s okay to scrutinize your gift list and cut out anyone whom you don’t really need or even want to buy for. This important step should be done before you even make your holiday budget.

Set a spending limit for each person

Once you’ve whittled down your gift list, set a spending limit for each person on that list. You may want to spend the most on family and friends, but these are also the relationships that leave the most room for creativity.

For example, it might be fun to have your family make gifts for one another this year or create a challenge among friends to see who can find the best gift for the least amount of money. Your boss, CMO or CXO on the other hand, may not appreciate inexpensive gifts like your homemade fudge or a handcrafted ornament.

Shop ahead for deals

When the holiday season is fast approaching, you’re pretty much forced to pay whatever prices the stores are offering, although you can sometimes save money by shopping online at websites like Amazon and eBay. However, if you’re smart, you’ll start your holiday shopping early, leaving yourself time to hunt down only the very best deals.

Shop with cash

Putting the credit cards away and shopping with cash is another smart way to stay within your holiday budget. In fact, shopping with cash is a good general rule for living within your means year-round, but it’s especially effective during the holiday season, when impulse purchases really go through the roof. If you only bring a designated amount of cash with you on each shopping trip, you’ll be forced to stick within your budget. Setting a time limit on your holiday shopping can also have the same budget-bolstering effect.

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Simplify holiday parties

For many medical professionals, lavish parties are another major expense of the holiday season. If you’re invited to tons of holiday parties every year, you can stay within your holiday budget by choosing to RSVP to only a few; this saves on party attire, gas, cab fare, parking, host/hostess gifts, drinks, and more.

If you plan to host your own party, forget about all the unnecessary decadence that your guests will have forgotten by mid-January; instead, keep things simple, but classy, and keep your guest list small to help stay within your holiday budget.


These are just a few of the many ways that you can stay within your holiday budget this season. Nearly any money-saving tips that you employ year-round can be tailored to help you save on your holiday shopping. As long as you take the time to create a holiday budget, and then stick to that plan, you should save major green and subsequently stay out of the red.

How very festive of you!


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Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact:



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