We are officially two months from Christmas day (December 25). At first, two months might feel like plenty of time to plan and shop and enjoy the season leading up to the big events, but blink once and you’ll be hanging stockings and decorating the Christmas tree. It’ll be that quick.

The holidays should be a time of rest and relaxation; a joyful time full of family and giving thanks. However, that isn’t always the case. The season of giving means it is also a season of spending, and with everything happening, it’s easy to lose track of just how much you’re depleting from your accounts. This year, we want to help you take control of your finances and stick to your budget with 6 tips that should help keep your wallet intact this holiday season.

Make a List

Before you even think about what to get your loved ones this year, stop and make a list. Write down the names of everyone you need to buy presents for. Developing a legitimate plan before you start spending is key to staying on top of it. Now you know who you need to buy for and can determine how much to spend on them. Keep a running tally and you won’t get lost in the holiday hoopla.

Price Check

So you’ve found the PERFECT gift but it is a little more expensive than you were expecting. Don’t give up… price check! Pull out your handy, dandy smartphone and with a quick search of the Internet, you could knock a few dollars off. Many stores will do a price-match against competitors if you can find the same item being sold somewhere else for less. And even if they don’t, you’ve found a cheaper alternative. Just order it from there!

Newer Isn’t Necessarily Better

When it comes to buying electronics, don’t get fooled by the year attached to it. Sometimes, the year-old model has all the same bells and whistles as the newest released edition. And it is almost always a fraction of the price. Ultimately, you’re just paying extra for the date, and not for a superior product. Newer isn’t always better.

DIY, Anyone?

The easiest way to save money on gifts is simply not to buy them. You can’t owe money if you never spend it. Right?! But then what will you give your friends and loved ones for the holidays? Well, you could always make them something. Get your DIY on and give a gift that’s truly one of a kind. Not sure where to start? We’ve got plenty of DIY gift ideas on SpouseLink.

Don’t Fall for Doorbusters

While Black Friday and Cyber Monday get all the attention when it comes to holiday sales, there isn’t that much of a difference between the savings you’ll find during the madness of those two days, and the sale you’ll see over the next two months. Keep your sanity and avoid the craziness. There’s enough of it around the holidays as it is.

Shipping: The Silent Killer

With the rise of online shopping, one silent killer has emerged as the destroyer of holiday budgets: Shipping. When you’re scrolling through endless pages of online retail, don’t forget to factor in shipping costs. With shipping costs always waiting in the wings, the price you see online isn’t always the price you get. Be careful, because those costs can add up quick.

Staying on top of your holiday budget is always easier said than done. But the earlier you get a jump on it, the better chance you have of sticking to it throughout the entire holiday season. Take a few deep breaths and don’t panic. You’ve got this.

3…2…1… SHOP!

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