The holidays can put a financial burden even on the savviest of shoppers and savers. But like most things, taking time to plan can help you avoid the stress that comes with overspending. Before you hit the mall, keep reading to learn how to make a holiday spending plan that works for you.

First off, if you haven’t already,

MAKE A BUDGET

First, make sure you account for all of your typical expenses so that you don’t come up short on bills or things like rent. Next, think about what else you may be spending on in the coming months. Are you hosting a party at your home, or traveling to visit family or friends? If so, estimate what those things will cost you. Once you’ve subtracted any expenses from your usual budget, you can think about how much you have to spend on gifts. It’s best to start planning this as early as possible. That way you can look at how much you’ll earn between now and the holidays and calculate how much you can save to cover your holiday spending. Being realistic about your budget will help make sure you don’t overspend.

SHOP AROUND

There are many different stores that you can shop around at to find the best deal.  Something that you find at Walmart you can also most likely find on Amazon.

DON’T DIP INTO YOUR SAVINGS

It can be tempting to dip into your savings to purchase the perfect gift, or those adorable Christmas decorations or whatever it may be, but don’t give in to the temptations.  You’ll be grateful you didn’t when the holidays are over, and you still have your savings.

THINK ABOUT PULLING NAMES OUT OF A HAT FOR FAMILY GIFTS

As families grow and we get married and have kids Christmas gets more expensive every year. If you, too, have a big family, picking names is a great way to cut costs. Or just buying gifts for the nieces and nephews and doing stockings for the older ones helps bring down the bill too. This is also a great way to bring everybody back to the real reason for the season. It’s so easy to get distracted by the gifts and forget about why we celebrate.

THINK AHEAD TO NEXT YEAR

Take advantage of the after-Christmas sales and buy any gifts that you know won’t go bad by next year.  You won’t regret it the time Christmas comes around again!