tips for controlling holiday spendingIt’s that time of year… Holiday shopping is stressful for everyone, but it’s especially tough for families that are already struggling with overwhelming debt. You don’t have to spend a fortune to have a happy holiday season! Follow these tips and you’ll reign in the spending and skip the spending stress.

1. Make your own list

Santa makes a list and checks it twice – you should too. It’s easy to get caught up in the gift-buying frenzy, but you don’t have to give gifts to everyone! Make a list of everyone you’re buying gifts for – aim for less than 6 people outside of your immediate family. For everyone else, bake cookies – it’s a more personal gift and lets you still acknowledge friends without breaking the bank.

2. Set your total limit and stick to it

It’s always smarter to buy with cash than to buy with credit. Now that you’ve got your list in hand, figure out what you can buy with what’s already available in your bank account. Don’t spend more than you can afford.
If you don’t feel like you’ve got enough, look at areas where you can safely reallocate funds. Skipping your morning coffee for a few weeks won’t really hurt you, but it can give you a nice little boost to buy a few more presents.

3. Don’t budget based on others

Just because your sister gives expensive gifts to everyone in the family doesn’t mean that you should. You made your list, you set your budget, and you need to stick to it. Don’t be influenced by others. If your budget is tight, no one will be offended if you give them less expensive presents.

4. Look for coupon codes

You don’t have to rely on sales to save money, online coupons can save you hundreds of dollars! If you’re buying your gifts online, do a Google search for coupon codes. If you’re buying your gifts locally, look for coupons in the weekly paper (and also online). Find out if you can price match to better deals at other stores.

5. Give time instead of gifts

Your parents, grandparents, or friends and family that live far away would love a visit – instead of buying them an expensive gift, take a road trip and spend some time with those you don’t see as often.

6. Give personalized gifts

Why buy something expensive that someone might never use? Instead, think about something personal. A thoughtful gift that you spent the time to get for someone means so much more than something expensive or trendy. Think about hobbies or interests, and give a gift that means more (and you won’t have to break the bank to do it).