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How to Keep Your Holiday Budget Merry and Bright

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A woman giving a wrapped gift.

It’s hard to believe that the holidays are right around the corner. Even though it’s a “wonderful time of the year,” the holidays can also be stressful, especially on a tight budget. Here are a few tips to help stretch your budget and save for next year.

Make a plan

Keep a list of who you are buying for and how much you plan to spend. This list will be key in helping you avoid going overboard or forgetting anyone. As tempting as it is, try not to buy for yourself. These impulse purchases can really damage your budget.

Instead of purchasing individual gifts for everyone on your list, consider purchasing a family or a group gift. If the thought of searching for the perfect gift stresses you out, homemade desserts or crafts are greatly appreciated and your friends and family will be grateful for the time and thought you have put into their gift.

Don’t wait until Black Friday to start shopping. Before Thanksgiving, the stores are less crowded, and there is a much better selection, especially for popular items like toys and electronics. If you wait until the last minute, you’re more likely to overspend and pay higher shipping costs.

Skip the expensive wrapping paper. Nicer paper, bows and ribbons do add a nice appearance under the tree, but it all ends up in the trash. Re-use gift bags from last year, or be creative and use materials around your house, like paper bags or newspaper.

Watch for deals

Compare prices, watch for holiday deals and keep an eye out for coupons and special offers. Store loyalty cards can help ensure you are getting the best price.

Keep your receipts and ask for refunds if you see the price drop. If items go on sale soon after your purchase, some retailers may refund the difference if you bring your receipt in to the store. Don’t be afraid to ask retailers if they will price match items on sale at another store.

Abandon your online cart. When you're looking for an extra discount on an order you're placing online, try leaving your cart alone for a couple days. Companies sometimes email discounts to entice you back.

Track your spending

As you shop, track your spending with the mobile app. Avoid overdraft fees by not spending more than you have in your account.

Keep records of what you spend and develop a budget for next year. Get ready for next year by setting up automatic transfers to make deposits to your holiday savings each paycheck.

Keep these tips in mind so your holiday can be merry and bright!

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