Featured Image If you’re like me, you haven’t purchased a single gift for Christmas. Well, my fellow procrastinators, it is crunch time! It’s already mid-November and I can’t even deal. Every year I say I’m going to buy gifts throughout the year and plan ahead and every year the holidays sneak up on me. Sometimes, waiting until the last minute can cause me to overspend. If I’m scrambling to buy presents I’m usually less worried about the cost. So, before I go out, (or let’s be honest, sit at home and add items to my Amazon cart) I’m making my list of gifts and I’ve come up with some ways I can buy gifts for my many loved ones but stay within my budget. Here’s my gift guide on a budget. With a little planning and budgeting, Christmas gifts don’t have to break the bank (or credit union). Don’t be like me and wait until last minute and scramble to find a gift that gets lost among the toys, where you pay too much for shipping and overspend by not planning. Give a meaningful inexpensive gift and put more thought into the planning. That way you can enjoy the holidays without the added stress of overspending. Crafting homemade gifts – I’m not the most creative when thinking of homemade gifts but thankfully for the less skilled DIYers there is Pinterest which is full of cute ideas for Christmas gifts. Some of them aren’t too hard to execute and most are easy on the budget. Shop local – A coworker and friend of mine here at VACU has an Etsy shop where she monograms almost anything. Buying a cup or a doll for a niece and having it personalized is inexpensive and gives it a personal touch that most anyone can appreciate. Bonus: She hand delivers the items right to my desk. No shipping costs! Ask around it may surprise you to find that many of your friends or coworkers have a side gig where they make some pretty cool stuff that has the potential for a great Christmas gift. Gift cards – I have a stack of gift cards in my junk drawer at home. It’s so bad. I kid you not, I have a Crate & Barrel gift card from my wedding (4 years ago!). It only has $7 and some change on it but this year I’m using it to offset some of the expense for a gift to my Aunt. Thanks to my stash of gift cards I won’t be spending quite as much. Family gifting – I have a total of 11 nieces and nephews and it is hard finding a decent gift for each of them while keeping it within my budget. One idea is to give a family gift for all to enjoy or you can do what we choose to which is have each of the kids draw names. We did it last year and it made Christmas day more special when all the cousins sat around and exchanged gifts. It’s a new family tradition they love and one that has saved us parents a little extra money around the holidays. Win, win! Ask your family if they would be game for a gift exchange you can make it fun with a Secret Santa or White Elephant exchange. Regifting – It’s not as bad as it sounds, I’m not wrapping up a half eaten box of cookies to give to my niece (yeah right, cookies don’t last in my house), hear me out. My great grandmother gave me several of her old aprons some of which she made by hand. My niece is really into cooking lately and she's right around the age I was when my great grandmother gave them to me. I’m giving them to her along with some cooking supplies. I love a gift that has meaning and I can’t wait to share with her an experience of handing down a gift from generation to generation. It’s not an expensive gift but one with a lot of sentimental value. Are there any items that would mean a lot to a friend or family member? With a little planning and budgeting Christmas gifts don’t have to break the bank (or credit union). Don’t be like me and wait until last minute and scramble to find a gift that gets lost among the toys, where you pay too much for shipping and overspend by not planning. Give a meaningful inexpensive gift and put more thought into the planning. That way you can enjoy the holidays without the added stress of overspending. Audra F. Hi, I’m Audra! I’m a marketing specialist here at VACU. I joined VACU right out of college at VCU 5 years ago. In that time, I got engaged, married my college sweetheart and had two babies; a girl and a boy. I’ve learned a lot about finances working at the credit union, but even more from navigating these life changes. So I’m excited to share my personal financial journey with you and what I’m learning along the way. Other stories by Audra F.