Getting Through the Holidays on a Budget: Five Tips You Need to Know

by Cortney Meng

Though we always know when the holiday season falls, it seems as though it approaches faster and faster every year. And with the holidays come a seemingly never-ending list of expenses that includes presents, plane tickets and fancy dinners.

With a finite amount of cash on hand and a stockpile of bills that continues to grow, it can seem quite difficult to enter the New Year without massive amounts of debt.

Don’t sweat it: We’re here to help. Let’s take a look at five tips we hope will help you keep your wallets full this holiday season:

  1. Make a list, and check it twice. When you know exactly how much money you can spend, you’re able to make better informed, more manageable purchasing decisions. Sure, you might want to buy your family and loved ones everything under the sun. But chances are your budget has a ceiling. So consider making a list of who you need to buy presents for and how much money you can spend on each. Worried your list of those you have to give to is getting too long? Why not get a group of family and friends together and opt for a Secret Santa swap instead?
  2. Choose cash over credit. Even though you’re technically spending more or less the same amount of money when you pay for items via cash or credit, it’s a heck of a lot easier to get overwhelmed with debt if you choose plastic as your primary method of payment. By simply withdrawing the amount of money you can spend during the holidays from your savings account, for example, you can be sure that you’re not biting off more than you can chew and instead are living with your means.
  3. Get creative. Maybe you’re an artist. Maybe you’re a handyman. Maybe you’re a poet. Whatever your hobby is, it’s important to keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have to buy the presents you give to your friends and family. If money’s tight, you could very well turn to your own talents and create a gift rather than buying one. Ten years from now, your brother won’t remember the sweater you got him, but he will remember the heartfelt poem you wrote that documents your strong relationship.
  4. Look for coupons and other special deals. There’s certainly no shortage of sales that take place every holiday season. Whether you’re someone who compulsively clips coupons or routinely checks Groupon, if you’re looking to save money as the year winds down, keep your eyes open for any special deals going on. And remember, Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are actually pretty incredible.
  5. It’s the thought that counts. You don’t necessarily have to buy your friend or family member a Rolex. Oftentimes, smaller gifts can be more impactful, anyway. After all, we all have our collections of trinkets and other charms that carry sentimental value that is truly priceless. So at the end of the day, it’s worth remembering that the thought behind that gift can be more valuable than the gift itself.

The holidays are a stressful time for all of us. But you don’t need to make it any more difficult than it needs to be. By making a serious effort to manage your budget upfront, you can start 2015 off on a financially sound foot!

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