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How to stick to a budget this holiday season

Sometimes the most wonderful time of the year can be financially stressful. Whether it's gifts, travel, parties, donations, decorations or all of the above, according to Investopedia, the average person spends at least $998 during the holidays.

Given the economical challenges we’ve faced in the past few years, making a holiday budget to stay on track financially is a great idea. But, the hard part isn’t creating the budget, it’s sticking to it.

Here are four tips to help you stay within your budget this holiday season

  1. The first step is simple, make a budget. Rather than having a tangible plan, people often estimate their expenditures based on memory, which can result in spending more than intended. Instead, do calculations based on your expenses to find a concrete number for your holiday budget. Don't forget to take unexpected costs into consideration, such as wrapping paper, bows, and add-on gifts that can creep up on you.
  2. Make a list and check it twice. Prepare by making a list of people you're buying for, what you’re buying, and how much the gifts are going to cost. Then check your list, make sure it aligns with your budget, and make necessary adjustments. Once your list is complete, try not to make any last minute additions, as they can put a dent in your budget. If you do have to make modifications, swap them out with items of equal value.
  3. Consider alternatives to purchasing gifts. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to show someone you care. Instead, take on a DIY project! You can make holiday candles, soaps, or lotion or come up with ways to turn your hobby into a gift, like knitting a scarf, quilting a blanket or woodworking a birdhouse.
  4. Focus on traditions that cost little to no money. For most people, the holidays aren’t special because of the gifts, but because of the traditions. Instead of hosting an elaborate party or taking a trip to Disneyland, think of ways you can celebrate the holidays without spending money. Take a stroll around your neighborhood to enjoy the Christmas lights, go sledding, play board games, do an art project or volunteer at a local charity, such as a soup kitchen or animal shelter. That way you can create memorable moments that will last a lifetime for free.

No matter the size of your budget, having a meaningful holiday season is possible with a little planning and creativity.

Josh Lamb
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