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  • Bianca Tillman

4 Money Saving Tips To Holiday On A Budget

Decorations, gifts and meals — oh, my!

The list of things to get us holiday ready is endless. With celebrations, donations and all the other festivities that travel with the happy times, it seems like we’ve all got holes in our pockets. Before we know it, the good times have come and gone, but we’re still paying off the bills they left behind.

The money-spending season has officially begun, but we’ve got plenty of time to prevent the financial turmoil that’s happened during holidays past. We can stop the transactions from piling up and survive the holidays debt-free.

So, patch the pockets of your jeans and financially prepare for the holidays ahead of time. Here’s your guide to economical gift giving.

1. Set a limit

Your first step is to create a budget. Plan your holiday spending list long before you’re in the checkout lane and before you click the “place order” button online. List the gifts you intend to give each person, in addition to the amount you’d like to spend.

Here are two things to keep in mind:

1. Don’t spend money that you don’t have. 2. Don’t buy things your friends and family don’t need.

Does your mom need three pairs of pajamas? Does your cat need that cheapy Christmas sweater? And what about your brother — will he prefer the overpriced headphones to the comparable ones on sale?

Now, here comes the trickery: the second part of setting a limit. It’s easy to plan a budget, but can you stick to it? Yes. You. Can.

Put down your credit card and the money that’s intended for rent and bills, and rethink things. Be sure to stay within the limits of your budget even in the instance of a “buy four, get one free sale.” As long as you plan your budget and stick to it, your holiday shopping won’t be so painful for your wallet.

2. Cut back on the small stuff

Don’t shoot the messenger, but it may be time to skip the daily lattes. Don’t worry. It’s only for the holiday season, and it’s just to add more funds to your holiday allowance.

Allow me to explain with some simple math: if a latte costs $5.00 and you buy one every day for a week, you’ll spend $35.00. That’s an additional $35.00 that could be added to your holiday budget. Now multiply that by the four weeks of the holiday season, and add it to your budget. Suddenly, you’ve got $140 of extra moola for a very merry celebration.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be the lattes that go out the window. We all have our guilty pleasures. So, whether you avoid the daily voyages to the vending machine or the frequent restaurant trips, any of the above will get the money-saving job done.

In due time, you’ll be able to buy the boots that caught your sister’s eye weeks ago or even the TV that'll make your dad cry. Make a loved one’s holiday extraordinary by cutting back on the small things for yourself.

3. Look for special sales

Don’t worry. Sales shopping doesn’t mean you have to pitch a tent in the blistering cold and suffer the lines of debut items. Let’s leave that to the brave people.

Luckily, as we all know, plenty of sales throughout the holiday season offer significant savings. Break out the ads, search the web and map your go-to stores and websites. To start you on the right track, here are a few dates to keep in mind for the things you need:

Toys: • According to CBS News, the lowest prices and the highest percentages off of toy purchases are on Cyber Monday, when the average discount is 18%.

Electronics: • Mark November 23rd, the Monday before Thanksgiving, on your calendar, because the lowest prices for electronics will be everywhere.

Clothing: • Shopping for a fashionista? Well, don’t start shopping for them until it’s close to Christmas. The prices for clothing start high at the beginning of the shopping season and decline from Cyber Monday to the holiday.

Jewelry: • Jewelry is a tricky item. Instead of prices lowering as the days go by, they rise. Retailers know that shoppers grow desperate as we get closer to the holidays.

4. Become an extreme couponer

If you ask me, coupons are the best invention since sliced bread. It’s basically free money, so what’s not to like? Whether it’s a 20% off coupon or a $10 off of $30 coupon, you’ll save money on the things you planned on buying anyway.

To be the next coupon clipping king or queen, flip through your “junk” mail and scour websites for savings. Here are a few you’ll want to bookmark this holiday season:

Ebates: • Ebates is a coupon lovers dream. Just log onto the website before shopping online, and earn cash back rewards.

RetailMeNot: • RetaimMeNot's name says it all. Escape those retail prices by coupon hunting on your computer, phone or tablet.

Groupon: • Groupon offers coupons for everything from merchandise to experiences. So make it a point to check this website before gift shopping.

Honey: • Honey is a website that can be added as an extension to your web browser. Did I mention that it automatically finds and applies coupon codes at checkout with a single click?

With these money-saving tips, your holiday will be a walk in the park. Not only will your family and friends love the gifts that you give, but you won’t break your piggy bank. If you need a bit more money management help, check out this Holiday Budget Calculator for easy tracking. Hooray for a debt-free holiday!

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