You don’t have to stress over your holiday fund

The holiday season is quickly approaching, and it’s time to start preparing for all the expenses that come with it. Between gifts, traveling, parties and food, the holidays can create stress both emotionally and economically. To help with that financial stress here are three easy ways to reduce holiday spending.

Use a budget. Calculate how much you can spend between gifts and other expenses that might arise during the pay periods before the holidays. This means figuring out exactly how much expendable cash is available without resorting to using credit cards or holiday loans. After figuring out a spending budget, set specific limits for each person that needs a gift to help limit spending. For example, set a price limit of $10-15 for nieces and nephews, $50 for parents and $100 on a significant other.

Do it yourself. If gifts in the stores are too expensive, consider making gifts at home. Many people appreciate the time and thought that went into creating the gift. This also creates a way to personalize items to really fit the person’s interests. Anything from woodwork, scarves, body scrubs and even food items are easily made with items that people might already have at home or at college. There are a lot of free events that are taking place on campus this year that focus on making a great gift for family members. For instance, in December there will be opportunities to make a custom photo snow globe, decorate holiday mason jars and even design custom ornaments.

Shop for sales. Doing research ahead of time to see what stores are having deals can help reduce a lot of stress this season. Shopping around may seem like a hassle, but different stores have different prices on the same items and every additional dollar spent adds up. Look online at a few stores to get an idea of how much an item is supposed to cost. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are also good times to buy items  and save a little money, but it is important to create a list and stick to it. It can be easy to get tempted by the reduced prices on items that people were planning to buy, but it is important to stick to a game plan and within the budget created. Also, when it comes to holiday shopping, the sooner the better. After Thanksgiving, prices for popular items slowly increase so companies can make a larger profit during the holidays. While a small increase might not be noticeable, they start to slowly add up. Not only will the gifts be slightly more expensive, but shoppers might have limited options as well as inventory starts to sell out.

The holiday season can be stressful, but following these tips will help to reduce some of the financial stress so you can spend more time enjoying it with friends and family.

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