11 End of Year Budget Spending Ideas for 2021

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January 13, 2021

Hello! You found our list of end of year budget spending ideas.

End of year budget spending ideas are practical ways to use remaining funds before the year is complete. Many budgets reset in the new year, and leftover resources do not roll over. In some cases, new budget calculations depend on the amount spent in the previous year. Thus, many departments scramble at year’s end to use remaining resources.

These ideas focus on:

  • end of year funds
  • unspent budgets
  • use it or lose it budgets

Plus more savvy spending tips.

Let’s get to it!

List of end of year budget spending ideas

From gifts to employee engagement measures to team building memberships, here is a list of expensable items to boost company culture and foster appreciation.

1. Buy team building credit

Team building works best as an ongoing process. Tempting as it may be to splurge on extravagant year-end parties or team experiences upon discovering unspent budgets, team building credit is a more worthwhile investment. Buying team building credit gives you the leeway to redeem services throughout the year, as opposed to trying to jam a year’s worth of bonding into the holiday hustle.

Frequent, quality outings beat flashy one-time events in terms of results, especially since teams are likely to change throughout the year. Not to mention, buying ahead offers a greater variety of options, allowing you to redeem credit for new team building experiences that debut later in the year, and enables more flexible scheduling.

If you would like to buy team building credit from us, then just fill out the form on our homepage and a team member will get in touch.

Learn more about the benefits of team building.

2. Pay for Google services in advance

If your organization uses paid Google services like Google Workspace or Adwords, then one way to spend your year end budget is to buy credit in advance. To buy Google credit, just go to the billing page, click “make a payment” and pay a surplus amount above what you may owe. This investment is generally easy to calculate, so you could plan to buy credit for the following 12 months or so.

3. Send corporate gifts to valuable potential clients

Since the end of the year coincides with winter holidays, you can allocate leftover budget towards wooing VIP clients. While professionals receive many gifts throughout the holiday season, a luxury gift can make a lasting impression and form the foundations for a long term relationship. Plus, the holidays provide the perfect occasion to send a present, making the gesture seem less self-serving. Choosing a high caliber gift serves the dual purpose of impressing clients and using excess budget.

For more tips, check out our post on luxury corporate gift ideas.

4. Distribute thank you gifts to employees

Clients are not the only ones who enjoy receiving presents. December is a great time to thank employees for the past year’s hard work. Expressing gratitude and appreciation for staff improves relationships between management and workers and boosts employee engagement. There are many ways to recognize employee efforts, including virtual holiday parties, award ceremonies, informal shout-out channels, team lunches, and employee appreciation gifts. Sending staff presents for the holidays is one easy way to show you care, while whittling away end of year funds.

Check out our lists of the best employee gifts and the best work from home gifts.

5. Invest in professional development opportunities

Employees appreciate physical gifts, and crave development opportunities too. According to a recent LinkedIn Workforce Learning Report, over a quarter of young workers shared that they consider learning to be one of the biggest drivers of workplace satisfaction. These professionals are likely to leave jobs if not presented with adequate opportunities to grow.

Not only is education a powerful employee retention strategy, the practice also helps organizations remain competitive or advantageous within respective industries.

Here are a few examples of professional development investments:

  • Professional organization memberships
  • Certification courses
  • Nerd Talks and lunch and learns
  • Internal training programs, especially e-learning
  • Team building books
  • Professional conferences, retreats, and offsite training programs
  • Cross-departmental training
  • Leadership retreats
  • Foreign language lessons
  • Mentorship programs
  • Networking opportunities, such as events or groups
  • Practical supplemental education, such as CPR and safety, stress management, and life skills training
  • Tuition reimbursement programs

To decide which professional development options are right for your organization, dispatch a survey to collect employee opinions. Funding programs with great interest boosts participation, maximizing results and justifying the investment.

6. Revisit your benefit and perk offerings

If your surplus budget is significant, then consider expanding your benefits and perk packages. Competitive benefits and perks attract and retain talent, and improve employee morale and loyalty. Improvements in these areas can significantly raise staff’s standards of living and levels of gratitude.

Increasing benefits can also boost the bottom line. Providing adequate time off and health insurance leads to lower levels of burnout and workplace accidents, and encourages employees to treat issues early instead of letting conditions spiral into costlier, more serious problems. Even perks like nutritious food and fitness memberships can positively impact health and increase productivity.

First, survey your employees to research what offerings most resonate. Then, research benefit providers to get a feel for standard costs and available deals. In some cases, bundling benefits or switching providers is a more cost effective choice, but securing services a la carte may be a more economical option. Shopping around will help you make more informed decisions.

If you are unsure of the costs or programs long term, then consider trialing the services before making a permanent commitment.

For more information, check out our guide to employee benefits and perks.

7. Upgrade technology and software infrastructure

Draining use it or lose it budgets is a good excuse to upgrade technology. While software and hardware may not be the sole drivers of productivity, supplying staff with high-tech tools simplifies processes and improves efficiency.

Here are some suggestions for end-of-year technology spends:

  • Laptops or desktop computers
  • Tablets
  • Smartphones
  • Point of sale systems
  • Modems, routers, and VPNs
  • Printers
  • Cloud application and storage services
  • Software, especially programs that automate labor-intensive tasks
  • Cybersecurity upgrades
  • Specialized equipment
  • Technology training for staff

Industry denotes technological options too. For instance, a healthcare provider may decide to invest in cutting-edge medical equipment, while a marketing team may opt to purchase a camera to improve digital content. When deciding which gadgets to spend on, consider your company’s needs and the potential impacts of each program, instead of fixating on fancy features.

Even if your workforce is remote, you can still re-evaluate your technology needs and offer upgrades as excess budget allows.

For ideas, check out our guides to employee engagement software and applicant tracking systems.

8. Launch an incentive program

Launching an incentive program in December or January is like making a new year’s resolution for the company. These programs outline specific targets for employees to achieve, and laying out such goals at the beginning of quarter one sets the tone to have a successful and productive year.

The basis of incentive programs is that employees earn rewards like trips, exclusive events, and material bonuses. These bonuses are the result of meeting designated criteria such as sales quotas or increases in customer satisfaction scores. Routing leftover budgets towards the implementation of these programs refocuses employee energy towards results and starts the year strong.

Of course, incentive programs require significant investment, and rushing into a decision may not be the most profitable course. Instead of making a hasty choice in December, research options and lay groundwork throughout the year, then finalize your packages at year’s end, when you have a clearer idea of budget restrictions. Upon discovering leftover funds, you may be able to book an even nicer experience for high achievers than first planned!

9. Contract a writer, designer, or consultant

The end of the year is a good time to refocus and set sights on the future of the company. You can hire a consultant with specialization in areas such as team building, marketing, business development and strategy, sustainability, or recruitment. Enlisting these kinds of services helps plot the organization’s path for the year to come.

Contracting an advisor and paying an upfront fee or retainer guarantees that the work will occur within the coming year, while simultaneously disposing of excess funds. Plus, justifying the cost of a consultant is easier when the money requires spending anyway.

Ensuring growth is important, but demonstrating growth is just as critical. The end of the year is a great time to revamp the website and refresh content so that you are ready to hit the ground running at the start of the year. Hiring a graphic or web designer, coder, writer, or other freelance artist to re-envision or update the brand can be a great investment.

10. Kick off an employee engagement campaign

Several end of year budget gurus suggest routing leftover funds towards marketing initiatives. External marketing is a good idea, but internal marketing can be just as beneficial. While customer-focused social media or advertising campaigns paint the brand with purchase potential, employee engagement campaigns champion the organization’s positive work environment. Satisfying staff has a ripple effect, as employee testimonials serve as word-of-mouth marketing campaigns that attract potential customers, too.

Here are a few ideas for employee engagement initiatives:

  • Social media takeovers and staff profiles
  • Employee of the month
  • Performance bonuses
  • Appreciation events
  • Worker focus groups
  • Health and wellness programs
  • Work anniversary acknowledgements
  • Team outings

While you do not need to conduct the full campaign in the final months of the year, structuring the program enables you to pay upfront for later expenses. For example, placing deposits on food trucks, restaurants, or private venues, pre-ordering awards or swag, or reserving extra manpower hours for these endeavors.

11. Virtual New Year’s Eve Party

A fun way to spend your end of year budget is on a New Year’s Eve party, which you can do online. These parties don’t have to be expensive, and could be a great investment of $500 to $5000 or so.

Here is a list of virtual New Year’s Eve party ideas.

Final Thoughts

One common observation regarding year-end spending is that executives and managers sometimes engage in wasteful, low-value spending as a reaction to the fear of losing resources. However, final yearly expenses do not need to be frivolous.

By purchasing services or credit upfront, decision-makers buy the company the time to enact thoughtful, ongoing changes that stretch far beyond December. Plus, investing in company culture and employee engagement brings about positive impacts on productivity and staff retention that pays for upfront costs, and then some.

Next, check out our list of ways to improve employee morale and create a great company culture.

FAQ: End of Year Budget Spending

Here are some of the most common questions and answers about end of year budget spending ideas.

What are end of year budget spending ideas?

End of the year budget spending ideas are ways to use remaining resources during the final months of the year so that departments do not lose funds. The corporate world often refers to this lack of rollover as “use it or lose it budget.”

What are the best end of year budget spending ideas?

The best end of year budget spending ideas include:

  1. Buying team building credit
  2. Sending corporate gifts to valuable potential clients
  3. Distributing thank you gifts to employees
  4. Investing in professional development opportunities
  5. Revisiting your benefit and perk offerings
  6. Upgrading technology and software infrastructure
  7. Launching an incentive program
  8. Contracting a writer, designer, or consultant
  9. Kicking off an employee engagement campaign

These investments lay the groundwork for future organization improvements while fostering immediate gratitude and improvement in company culture.

How do you handle unspent budget?

When deciding how to handle unspent budget, the first step is to find out whether unused budget rolls over to the new year, or disappears at year’s end. If unused budget disappears, then using funds for organizational improvements is a better option than losing resources.

To decide how to spend the leftover budget, consider the organization’s immediate and long term vision and needs, and survey your staff to gather data on what facets matter most to workers. Weigh the potential return on investment for each option, and choose the route that is most likely to achieve desired results.

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Author: Angela Robinson

Team building content expert. Angela has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and worked as a community manager with Yelp to plan events for businesses.

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