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Holiday Budgeting

It's the time of year for gift giving, entertaining, holiday parties, and for many–overspending and financial stress. This year, enjoy the season without letting holiday spending get the better of you; the tips and tools below will help. Setting a realistic holiday budget and making sure to stick to it is the first step to enjoying a more affordable and less stressful season. Here are a few ways to handle gift giving and celebrations without breaking the bank:

1. Set Your Budget

The best place to start making a holiday budget is to look at your spending during last year's holiday season. In what areas did you spend more than planned? Next, make a list of the holiday purchases and events you plan to spend money on this year. Consider all of your major spending categories: gifts, entertaining, meals, and travel–then estimate how much you can afford to spend in each category. Knowing your spending goals long beforehand will help you stay on track financially as the season heats up. This easy-to-use Holiday Budget Calculator can help.

2. Get Creative

One great way to save money and wow friends and families is to get creative. Store-bought gifts are great, but homemade gift are often more meaningful and most recipients truly appreciate your time and effort. Ideas for creative gift projects are plentiful online. Sites like this one should give you a few ideas to start with.

If you like the idea of a personal touch and affordability but don't have the time or skill to make gifts yourself, the ultimate marketplace for homemade gifts is Etsy, where you can find crafty items from over 200,000 sellers.

3. Join Together

Instead of excessively spending on each other this year, join together with family members to help those who may be less fortunate. Online opportunities are easy to find, and there are several in this article, "Helping others when money is tight." Other opportunities for online giving can be found at the websites for Oxfam International and ACCION.

4. Travel Wisely

If you plan on traveling, take some time to determine how much it will cost you with our Holiday Travel Planner and don't forget these holiday travel planning tips.

5. Entertain for Less

Holidays are a wonderful time to entertain, but a little planning and budgeting can help you avoid financial headaches. Let our Holiday Entertainment Planner help you ensure a fun event that won't tax you financially. Also check out these holiday entertainment tips to help you keep your holiday budget in shape.

For additional tips on helping your budget stay on track, visit our Holiday Spending Survival Guide.