“Silver bells, silver bells. It’s Christmas time in the city. Ring-a -ling, hear them ring, soon it will be Christmas day.” Silver Bells

One of the most cherished and celebrated holidays around the world is Christmas. The spirit of the season completely changes the atmosphere everywhere. Still, this holiday that brings joy and happiness also carries its share of dread and stress due to the one thing that causes everyone to pull their hair out this season. Money.

Christmas is a high earning and consumption period with spending upon spending. A whole lot of money goes into Christmas. How else do you expect to top the Jones’s, beat your cousin in giving the best gift, and throw the most talked about Christmas party in town? From gifts to décor and festive gatherings, there is a ton of money going out.

Sometimes—most of the time— all that spending can get out of hand, to that end, then comes January. Bills are burying the debtors. Since spending around Christmas is inevitable, here are a few tips and tricks that I find especially helpful. We can utilize these to not feel the pain of spending come the New Year.

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Set a Budget 9 times out of 10 we will over spend. If you are not strict with your purse strings, you will hit the soft bottom of your wallet fast and hard. The key here is being smart about your spending. Know how much you WANT to spend, your buffer room for what you CAN spend, and WHEN to STOP. You know your account books, so don’t try to delude yourself. If you can’t do it—you can’t do it. Don’t go into debt or deeper into debt. Make sure that everything you’re spending is accounted for.

Some ways to do this are: (1) using a prepaid card, so you do not go over that set limit—and leave the credit cards at home, (2) using the credit card with the lowest spending limit and/or interest rate with the same set budget, and (3) shopping with cash (If it’s not a lot. Don’t carry a great amount of cash on you.).

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Choose Customized Over Designer Not only is this a great way to save, but it gives added meaning to the gift. I love customizing gifts. No one else can say that they have the same exact thing. Personalization highlights the relationship between the giver and recipient, expressing genuine care and value of that person. The possibilities are endless with customization, and there are many vendors. A great place to start finding customized and personalized items is Etsy. If you love collecting photos, a wonderful place to create frames, photo books, and more is Bay Photo Lab.

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Select Cards and Gifts Make a list of those persons you will give gifts to, cards to, and both gifts and cards. Sounds tedious, but this will be a life-saver. You don’t want to miss anyone for Christmas, but you can’t buy gifts for everyone; which, is where cards come in handy. Knowing who you will give gifts to will help you set your budget. Usually, I will give gifts to my close family and friends and cards to everyone else. Giving cards does make the recipient any less important. The wallet just can’t afford everyone. Cards extend a token of sincerity without breaking the bank. The key is not getting just any generic card and simply signing. Add a thoughtful handwritten note and Christmas candy.

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Organize the Christmas Gear It’s time to pull out the Christmas decorations, place settings, and more. But where is everything? I thought I had…. Wondering where things are located or assuming there is enough of a certain item happens every year. You don’t want to lose, waste, or have excess. Don’t throw your stuff into bins or pack cans into the back of the pantry. Label and categorize. If you go big for Christmas, keep an itinerary of the things you have so the following year you are not buying duplicates.

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Stock Up on Décor and Supplies The spending does not stop Christmas Eve. If you like decorating for the season or need to replace certain items, NOW is the time to buy. It is said to not shop sale because those are the leftovers that nobody wanted, but what are stores going to do with that leftover stock? After Christmas, I recommend stocking up on the basic items, such as bulbs, lighting, hooks, cookie cutters and the like. They will be heavily discounted. If you realize next year that you have a bad set of lights and now have a dark tree, buying them discounted after Christmas versus buying them close to full price before the holiday does not seem as wasteful as you’d think.

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