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November 29, 2019

Merry, Bright, and on a Budget

Six steps to spread holiday cheer without breaking the bank.

With events, family gatherings, gift-giving and parties, the holidays can be the most wonderful time of the year. All that merriment doesn’t come cheap. The following tips can help you celebrate the season and bring in the new year without breaking the bank.

Make a plan.

Create a holiday budget by reviewing your income and expenses. Be realistic about how much you can afford to spend. Prevent overspending by paying with cash or loading a prepaid debit card with the amount you’ve budgeted. If you plan to use a credit card for your holiday shopping, make a budget, stick to it, and make a plan to pay down the debt quickly. The longer you carry a balance on your credit card, the more you’ll pay in interest.

Make a list. (Check it twice.)

Identify each family member and friend you want to buy a gift for and how much you’re able to spend on each of them. For other groups, coworkers, book clubs, etc., suggest a gift exchange instead. Chances are, your friends and colleagues are trying to no overspend, either.

Don’t overlook extra expenses.

Gift wrapping, holiday cards, decorations, entertaining guests, and extra travel costs can add up quickly. Prioritize your expenses and tackle your top priorities first and work your way down the list.

Find a good deal.

During the holidays, retailers are competing for your shopping dollars. Take the time to look through advertisements to find the best sales, promotions, and deals. Be sure to check out discount sites like Groupon and find coupons on apps like RetailMeNot.

Stretch your budget.

If you’re taking on extra expenses during the holidays, look for other ways to save. Bringing your coffee and lunch from home for a couple weeks can give you extra wiggle room in your budget for holiday expenses. Consider hosting a holiday or New Year’s Eve party instead of going to an expensive event at a restaurant or bar.

Get creative and crafty.

Plan low-cost ways to celebrate the season. Hosting a holiday potluck with friends or a cookie exchange with your coworkers. Capitalize on your talents and hobbies to make DIY gifts that won’t break the bank.

With some planning and discipline, you can enjoy the holiday season without stressing about your finances.