Christmas is less than a month away… insane right? Well, ready or not, the most wonderful and expensive time of the year is now. Hold on to your wallets!

The National Retail Federation predicts consumers will spend an average of $1,047.83 on holiday spending this year, an increase of 4 percent from the previous year. In total, the Americans spend more than $700 billion dollars throughout the months of November and December alone.

It’s a beautiful time of year intended for giving to loved ones, however, that doesn’t mean your bank accounts have to suffer because of it. These 7 tips are sure to show you how to ball on a budget this holiday season!

Plan Ahead

Holiday shopping isn’t intended to start during the holiday season. If you’re looking to save your coins, you can’t begin your Christmas shopping a few weeks before the actual holiday. Next year, start planning a couple months in advance. As we get closer and closer to the holiday season, store prices tend to increase, leaving you frantic and having no choice but to buy something you could’ve bought much cheaper at an earlier time. Get in the habit of making your Christmas list as soon as summer comes to an end, this way you’ll get a head start on deals.

Secret Santa

Want to save money, time and hassle? Use the secret Santa method. For those who aren’t aware of the ‘Secret Santa,’ secret Santa is a unique gift exchange in which each member of a group or family is only designated one person to buy a gift for. In this instance, each member can really put effort, money and time into one gift, as opposed to having to shop for the whole family. This exchange not only saves you money in the long run, but all members of the gift exchange receive a gift, win-win!

Create a Spending Limit

It’s so easy for us to overspend when we don’t set an exact amount which caps our overall spending holding us accountable to our budget. Before you begin to shop, set a limit for all your gifts you plan to purchase. Write a list, write out gift ideas and write out the budget that you will not exceed for all gift purchases.

Utilize Apps for Discounts 

There’s an app for just about everything, and finding discounts for holiday shopping is no different. Apps such as Shopular, Flipp and ShopSavvy take the hassle out of price comparing, instead offering unique discounts and coupons to save big this holiday season. Long gone are the days of rummaging through stores aimlessly looking for the best deal, this holiday season let your thumbs to the swiping and take away the stress. 

It’s The Thought That Counts

Just because something is super expensive doesn’t mean something is truly thoughtful. As the old saying goes, “it’s the thought that counts,” and this saying will always remain true, especially during the holiday season. Don’t feel you have to buy the most expensive gifts to prove your love or thoughtfulness to a person. Often times, the smallest tokens of gratitude go way further than an expensive gift. This holiday season really think about good, affordable gift ideas, that won’t hurt your pockets.

 Black Friday & Cyber Monday

Instead of making a mad dash for Christmas gifts on a random weekend this fall season, utilize the discounts given on Black Friday weekend. Black Friday and Cyber Monday, two of the biggest sale discount days of the year, are great times to win big while saving. From clothing to electronics, stores nationwide offer major discounts weeks before Christmas. 

Make a List 

Everyone will not be getting a gift this holiday season, and that’s ok! This season write out a tangible list of who you’ll be shopping for and the gifts you intend to buy. It’s very easy to overspend and overshop once you’re distracted by all the sales, products and presents. Write out a list and stick to it! 

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