Photo: standrets via 123RF

When it comes to holiday spending, it’s easy to get carried away. After all, what could be more fun than vacationing, opening presents, and spending time with loved ones? That said, it’s essential to ensure you focus on the things that matter most rather than overspending on frivolities.

To help you keep your spending in check, here are some thrifty tips to keep you from blowing your holiday budget.

Create a Holiday Budget 

Start by creating a realistic budget if you’re worried about going overboard on decorations, party favors, or gifts this year. Decide on how much money you want to spend on each area (travel, food, holiday cards, gifts, etc.), and then stick to that amount.

Don’t forget to factor in unexpected expenses, like gas for out-of-town trips, pet care costs, and gift wrap. Once you’ve determined your budget, set up a cash envelope system for your holiday purchases to help you stay on track.

Make a Gift List 

Once you know how much you can afford to spend, list the people you plan to buy gifts for and set a budget for each. If the list seems too long, try scaling back so you can fit it into your budget. 

Consider making something homemade if you cannot cut a few names off the list. Examples include fresh-baked cookies (or a cookie mix gift sack), mason jar snow globes, or hand-painted ornaments. 

Photo: Dmitrii Shironosov via 123RF

Clip Coupons

Gone are the days of sifting through newspapers for sales and discounts. These days, you can find coupon codes online for everything from gifts to your travel accommodations. Shopping apps such as RetailMeNot and CouponCabin make it easy to clip and save your favorite coupons, so you can access them right on your phone when shopping. 

You can also sign up for reward programs like Amazon Prime and ShopRunner to score free shipping and other perks with your online orders. Pro tip: create an email address for online shopping, so you don’t get overwhelmed with promotional emails. This way, you’ll be able to reap the benefits of signing up while still keeping your inbox clutter-free.

Send E-cards 

If money is tight this year, skip the expensive greeting cards and send your holiday greetings via email instead. (Don’t worry, you don’t need to be tech-savvy to do it!) Hundreds of websites out there will help you create customized holiday cards in minutes. A few examples include CanvaSmileboxEcard Shack, and Punchbowl

E-cards aren’t just cost-effective and more eco-friendly than traditional holiday cards. Best of all, you can share them with friends and family without spending excessively on postage. 

Host a Potluck 

Can’t swing the cost of throwing a big holiday bash this season? Why not host a potluck instead?

Potluck dinners are a great way to celebrate the holiday season with friends and family without breaking the bank. Plus, they eliminate the stress and hassle of cooking a huge meal at home (and cleaning up the mess!).

If you’re worried about food allergies or picky eaters, create a menu ahead of time, so your guests know what to bring. And if you’re planning a themed party, consider asking your guests to wear festive attire (ugly sweaters, holiday characters, etc.) to add to the fun.

The holidays bring laughter and cheer. But for many, this jolly season can cause anxiety and stress, especially for those on a tight budget. By following these tips, you can avoid stress and enjoy the celebrations with family and friends without worrying about your wallet.