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Harris-Courage & Grady, PLLC Sept. 29, 2015

The holidays are just around the corner.

Planning ahead is the key to having a great holiday season without setting yourself up for a new year filled with debts. The sooner you start to plan, the easier it will be to have a great experience without overspending. Follow these tips to start planning your holiday finances.

  1. Make a budget. Anticipate how much money you will spend on gifts, charitable donations, food, and travel. Go over your list with your significant other to make sure you didn’t miss anything. Keep your budget accessible and refer to it throughout the holiday season. It’s also worthwhile to go through your budget again and think about how you could spend less. Could you suggest a gift exchange? Make gifts yourself? Have a potluck? Be creative and think of ways to save. The earlier you start, the easier it will be.

  2. Start saving. Does your budget indicate that you’ll need more than your typical income? Start saving now. Think about ways to cut costs, and add the money to your holiday savings. You could also take on a second job, or check out our moneymaking tips. Start saving early, so that you will be sure you have enough money to meet your expenses when the holidays arrive.

  3. Shop smart. Whether you’re shopping for food or gifts, take the time to research sales before you go out. Make a list of what you’re going to buy, and stick to it. Use cash, NOT credit cards, so that you can’t overspend the amount you’ve budgeted.

  4. Make them meaningful.You don’t have to spend lots of money to enjoy the holidays. There are many things you can do for free that make the holidays meaningful. Volunteer at a homeless shelter. Go for a walk to look at the fall colors. Build a snowman. Making memories and spending time together is what the holidays are all about.

The sooner you start planning, the more likely you’ll be able to stay within your budget and still have the holiday experience you want to have. Take the time to plan, and you’ll be able to start 2016 without your usual holiday debts.