While we can’t help you decide what to get your friends and family this holiday season, we can try to help you keep your spending to a manageable amount.

Set a Budget

Before you even head out to your local retailers, you’ll need to set a maximum budget. It is important to be realistic when deciding your budget amount, while keeping in mind all your day-to-day expenses that will still be there after the holidays. Understanding you may not be able to get everything on your friends’ and family’s wish list will help you stay within your set budget.

Have a Plan

Have you ever gone into Target for one or two items and end up leaving an hour later with a cart full of things you “had to have”? The holiday season is full of deals and sales in every store that can leave you with an empty wallet, even with a well-planned budget. The best example of this is Black Friday. Because of the lines, everyone has a plan of what they want to get and when they are going to each store. Not only does a plan make shopping more efficient, but also can save you from wandering around stores aimlessly looking for a gift. If you’re going to go out shopping with a friend or family member, try to make sure they also have a plan so you don’t get side tracked and end up spending money on things you don’t need.

Cost Cutting Tips

These simple tips can save you hundreds of dollars throughout the holiday season:

  • Scan Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales to see if anything on your list has any steep discounts or value-added incentives.
  • When shopping online, try to buy things far enough in advance that you don’t have to pay extra for shipping, or see if there is an in-store pickup option.
  • Many stores have price-matching policies in place that you can use to your advantage and get the best deal possible.
  • Use cash or your debit card (but watch for skimmers!). Unless you have an established rewards program, then try to avoid using your credit cards and having to pay the interest back months later.

Family Matters

Even after setting a budget, making a fool-proof plan, and using all the cost-saving tips at your disposal, you still may be short on cash. The important thing to remember is that the true gift of the holidays is the cheer in the air, and the time you get to spend with your family and other loved ones. Not everyone gets to be with their family. You may not have been able to get a gift for everyone, or even get everything you wanted, but you are spending it with people who love you.

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