How Not to Break the Bank This Holiday Season

The holidays are almost here! Get ready for festive parties, family gatherings, stress? Hold up, let's scratch that last one. The holidays should be a time for celebration, not financial frustration, yet why do so many people find themselves worrying about their bank accounts this time of year? With the amount of commercialism we're bombarded with around the holidays, it's tempting to splurge on all the latest gifts and gadgets, but doing so without a plan can get you in a sticky financial situation. This year, follow these five tips to help you celebrate the holidays without breaking the bank.

Make a list (and a budget)

From the get-go, create a list of who/what you need to buy for, and assign a dollar value to each. Knowing how much you can spend will help keep you on track throughout the season, and if you stick to it, you should be able to avoid those bank account notifications containing the dreaded "overdraft" word. Most importantly, consider the consequences you'll face if you go over budget. If you have to put something on a credit card to pay for it, do so knowing that you'll have to pay it back with interest and will ultimately spend more in the long run.

Look for deals

As you tackle your holiday shopping, be strategic about finding the best deals. Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday are the most obvious times to snag a deal, but you can also check with your favorite stores to find out when they'll be offering sales. If you prefer online shopping, install browser extensions like Honey or Wikibuy, which automatically search for and apply the best discount codes to your order.

Use points or earn extra cash

Do you use credit cards to earn rewards? If you have enough built up, you can cash in those points to use for clothing, tech, gift cards, and more. Also, try selling some old books, clothing, or furniture you no longer need to earn some extra cash, then use those funds to pay for or offset your holiday expenses.

Get creative

Whether it's for holiday decorations or gifts for the family, DIY is a great way to be festive and save money. Embrace your creative side this holiday season, and enlist your family and friends to join in on the fun. Not only will the items you make be more meaningful, but it will also give you an opportunity to make memories you'll cherish.

Spend money on experiences

Speaking of making memories, isn't that what the holidays are all about? Be careful not to get too wrapped up (pun intended) in the consumerism of the holidays. After all, most of the gifts you buy will likely get tossed to the side in a couple months. If you're going to spend money around the holidays, spend it on experiences. Treat your family to a getaway where you can recharge, have some fun, and create holiday memories that will last.

Celebrating the holidays doesn't have to be financially stressful. Keep these tips in mind in the coming months to ensure a holiday that's both fun and financially smart.

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