The holiday season is expensive. What with presents and food and all the travel involved. It’s easy to go a bit overboard with spending, but if you want to stay on track financially, you need to plan and prepare for the season.

  1. Budget! This seems like a no brainer, but with all the deals and cool new gadgets it’s easy to buy,buy,buy. Before you leave your house (or sit on the couch with your laptop) come up with a number you are willing to part with for Christmas. You should also break that budget down per-person for gifts. If you have an idea on how much you want to spend on each person, it will be easier to shop for them. If you plan on traveling make sure that you can fit it into your current budget (or have money saved up for it).
  2. Don’t spend money you don’t have. You shouldn’t go into debt for gifts. Avoid taking on debt to make other people happy. The interest rates are not worth it. If you can’t work it into your budget, find less expensive options. If you can, making something yourself is a good option. No one ever says no to homemade cookies. Don’t be afraid to tell some people that you are being more budget conscious this year and would like to not exchange gifts this year. Most people will understand.
  3. For extended family and friends, suggest a Secret Santa or white elephant gift exchange. Instead of planning and paying for gifts for everyone in your friends and family circle, you’ll only have to buy one or two (with a spending max YAY!). You might have to take the initiative to get it started but it will be worth it and everyone will have fun!
  4. Don’t deny yourself the little joys of the season. Shopping for the presents, going to parties, planning for relatives in town; it can all be stressful and overwhelming if you don’t also take care of yourself. So treat yourself to the holiday Starbucks coffee, or buy that sweater that’s on sale. The trick here is to enjoy the little joys of the season so that you don’t overly deny yourself and then splurge on many items in a moment of weakness just because everything’s on sale.
  5. Start planning now for next year. Every year we find ourselves saying “Christmas already!?” It’s never too early to start planning. If you spread out saving for Christmas in January, you will have plenty saved up by the time Christmas comes around again. If you put aside $20 a week into your Christmas fund you will have $1000 by Christmas. Make the saving automatic and you will be all set!

The Holiday season is about joy and giving. You should be able to enjoy it just as much though without breaking the bank. Stressing out about recovering from your December spending is not a good way to start off the new year. You don’t need to go overboard with presents. The memories you make will last longer than the toys you buy anyways.