The Holidays can be a stressful couple months for many. Overspending has a lot to do with that. In order to avoid financial chaos this year, use these tips to help you create an effective Holiday budget.

Make a List

Before you do anything else, sit down and make a list of all your holiday expenses. Be thorough. An article written by Miriam Caldwell for the elaborates on this subject. She states, “This includes gifts, cards, wrapping paper, traveling expenses, gift exchanges at work, and charitable donations. This will give you a basic idea of things that you will need to pay for in addition to gifts. Many people only think about the gifts and wonder why money is so tight in December, but they forget about these incidentals.” You need to have a crystal clear picture of the amount of money you’re spending. Make your list and check it twice.

Assign Gift Budgets

First, decide on an overall budget for gifts. For example, maybe you decide that you have $500 for presents this year. Then, make a list of everyone you want to buy for. When you’re done, go through your list and write an amount next to each name. The numbers for each person added up should equal your overall gift budget. This is a great way to create a line item expense sheet. You will be able to prioritize who you spend money on as well. When you get towards the end of your budget, get creative with gifts in order to make your money stretch farther. Remember, sometimes a great gift is special because of the thought behind it.

Gift of Time

Many people underestimate how much their loved ones simply want to spend time with them. If you’re short on funds, don’t let that stop you giving amazing gifts. Give the gift of spending time with a grandparent doing a puzzle. Spend time with your parents helping them around their house. Any time spent together can be made special if you put down your phone and really make an effort to connect. You can also offer your time in the form of performing service. Think about a chore your mom hates doing and offer to take over those responsibilities for a couple weeks or months. Service goes a long way, it’s free and it’s an incredible gift to receive.

Some Thought

As previously alluded to, another budget saving tactic is to come up with thoughtful, inexpensive gifts. Not everyone on your list needs flashy presents. Many would simply love a gift from the heart. Take some time to think about each person on your list and consider their needs. Think of things that would make them smile or make their lives a bit easier. The effort will not go unnoticed.

Holiday budgeting is essential and overextending yourself is not. Be smart and frugal with your shopping to ensure you start the New Year with your best foot forward.

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