Ah I love the holiday season, it really is the most wonderful time of the year! So much joy and happiness, time well spent with loved ones, beautiful and up lifting christmas songs playing all around us that makes our spirits smile. If it was up to me, it'll be christmas, all day, everyday. I just love everything about this time of the year!

It's so joly and I just can't get enough of it! As the the holiday season nears with so many festivities happening around us although fun, can bring extra anixiety due to all the pressure and stress involved. There's so much happening in a short time span --- buying gifts, and attending several parties. It can and does get very expensive.  It is beleived that consumers spend billions of dollars during the holiday season. As high as the numbers are, I'm not surprised.  There're lot of spending during the holiday season due to certain pressure and notion to spend. I figured out years ago, avoiding the mall is a great way to keep myself in check during the hoiliday season. I absolutly refuse to rack up unwanted and unnecessary debts.  

While it's important to enjoy all that the holiday season has to offer, it's also crucial to plan ahead and make great financial decisions in order to help ring in the new year, stress free without worrying about all the bills trickling in, after math of the holiday season.

Luckily, I love budgeting and and planning ahead and I apply the same principles when it comes to the holiday season. So on today's post I'm sharing Tips To Stretch Your Christmas Budget And Stay Out Of Debt!

Have A Christmas/Holiday Budget

As with anything, it's important to have a plan and stick to it! Just like with Back To School Shopping and Grocery Shopping. You need a tangible financial plan..set a limit amount as to how much you want to spend on christmas gifts per person or per family and stick to it.  For me, I prefer to have a certain amount set side throughout the year on our charismas budget for festivities and gifting. The funds saved will be used for food, clothering, gifts and decorations. I have found over the years that having a christmas budget, alleviates unnecessary stress and spending when Christmas rolls around.

Start Shopping Early

Yes, if you want to stretch your Christmas budget, you can't leave the shopping for last minutes. I personally start shopping for events at the end of the season. Whether its back to school shopping or Christmas shopping! As soon as boxing day hits, I start looking for great deals with the intention of using them the following year. There are tons of clearance items right after Christmas, from cards, decorations, clothes anything Christmas related can be bought on clearance. Keep an eye out for the items, you think is gift worthy, buy them and put it your stash and bam you have a christmas gift on a budget for next year.

For example, I knew I wanted to switch up my christmas decoration theme this year. So last year after christmas I bought almost everything I'll need to decorate our home for christmas this year. I saved so much doing that and noone can tell I spent way less to get our home all decked out for christmas. 

Be a smart shopper and shop out of seasons and get the most for you buck, but  if for one reason or the other you weren't able to shop clearance, it's not too late. You can still get great deals through out the year, there're always deals. Have a plan as to who you want to gift and what kind of gifts you want and shop around until you get what fits in your budget.

You Don't Have To Give Gifts To Everyone

It's absolutely ok, not to give everyone you know a gift if you can't afford it. There's no shame in that, and you shouldn't feel pressured to do so. The people in your life should understand that and not hold it against you. As much as I love Christmas, one thing I don't enjoy is the perceived notion of having to give everyone a gift. No you don't, it's not about gifts, it's about spending quality time with loved ones and building lasting memories. Gifting is a bonus in my opanion.

Personally, I focus on this, I don't mean buying them lavish gifts, or go crazy buying them everything on their lists. It's always within reason, I have a christmas budget per child; my children know this and they are perfectly ok with that.  Once in a while I'll gift an adult something if it fits in the budget. Luckily for me, the adults in my life understand this and don't take offence to it.

Don't Be Afraid To Decline Gift Exchanges

There are so many gift exchanges going around this time of the year.  If you want to be part of each one brought to your attention you'll end up broke! Lets' be honest, I've been in quite a few gift exchanges in my life time and the gifts are nothing to rave about most of the time. Don't feel obligated to  join in, politely opt out and save your money for something else on your list. Simple and no explainations needed.

No Impulse Buying

This is especially important if you love going to the malls. There're so many beautiful, sparkly, glamorous and eye catching things in the mall. Stay out of the mall if you can, and shop online. But if you absolutely have to go out shopping...make a list and stick to it! Yes, it maybe buy one get one free, but do you really need the second one? It's not free, so think long and hard before you purchase based on sale attics. Purchase only what you need and leave.

Donate Your Gift To Charity

We do this from time to time, my children didn't like it at first, but we wanted to teach them about the true meaning of Christmas. We explain to them before hand, we don't just wake up Christmas morning and do it. We've actually taken them to where we wanted to donate and they've watched us give their gifts in the form of cash to a charity.  

Before Christmas every year, they will ask "are we donating our gifts this year"? Of course we always end up surprising them with gifts, but the fact that they understand giving to the less fortunate is important is a big win for us. 

So go ahead, make someone less fortunate christmas so specail. We're so fortunate in this part of the world...sometimes we really do go over board. Switch it up this year and give your gift to someone in need, and make their Christmas unforgetable!

Chritrismas is suppose to be fun, enjoyable and stress free. Not stressful and anxiety driven...don't go broke trying to please everyone by racking up debt that will take you months to pay off after the fact. Keep it simple, have a plan, stick to it and have a great time with loved ones, no strings attached.

Afehyia Pa (Merry Christmas/Happy New year) and S.M.I.L.E.

I - IN




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