Surely you saw this coming! Budget & plan!!! You will never hear us stop talking about it. It sounds so simple. Almost too simple to really be an effective way to make a difference. But with all the lights, sparkles, sales, hot chocolate, candy canes, and so on of the season, it doesn’t take much for the excitement to take over. Before you know it, the holidays can have you swimming in debt, and you spend the next year, if not years, repaying credit card bills on gifts that………..well let’s be honest probably won’t even make it to summer. So do not ignore those “simple tips.” Those could be the ones that work the most.

First things first, write your budget! Figure out exactly how much you have to spend this holiday season. No sense in planning out what it is you want to buy if you have no idea how much you have to buy it with. 

Second. Once you have figured out how much it is you have to spend, make a list of all those special people you would like to buy for. In our house, we used to have a very bad habit of trying to buy gifts for anyone and everyone we knew. The result was us buying stuff for people we didn’t really like with money we definitely did not have. Now, we sit down and write out a list of the people most important to us. Those who we would truly love to bring joy to, and we invest or money there. Yes, we do consider it a kind of investment. We are investing our time, money, and efforts, so why not invest it in the relationships with people who mean the most to us?

Third, after you have your list of someone special all figured out, it is time to assign a spending limit for each person. If you blow your budget all on a really awesome gift on Grandma, then there is not going to be enough left over to buy something for dear ole Uncle Joe. Setting a limit allows you to work your whole budget in a way that allows for everyone on your list to receive a gift.  

Finally, sit down and brainstorm gift ideas for each person within the limits you have set. If you find that you have money left over within one person’s budget, you can choose to either buy that person another gift or roll it over to another person’s gift, where you may be a little short. Chances are once you have your entire shopping list bought, you will find you saved in all sorts of places and may even have enough left over to treat yourself for a job well done!

Over the years, we have found that taking the time to plan and prepare is the best thing we can do for our budget, especially during this time of year. We have also found that it makes us more aware of what it is we are spending our money on. So before you step foot outside your house this season, take the time to make a plan and prepare yourself. Your budget will thank you in the long run. 

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