Think about last year during the holiday season. When did you spend the most amount of money? I bet it was the last two weeks before Christmas day. People often spend more money when they do not have a plan or when they wait to the last minute. Here are some money saving tips for the holidays to keep the spending in check and create a more enjoyable holiday.

1. Make your budget and gift list now

Since your holiday budget is likely to be similar to what you’ve spent in years past, you can pretty much come up with your budget now. As for gifts, advance planning removes the deadline pressure, but it does require some added consideration.

2. Set aside some money

Remember that anything you put on credit cards and finance at those convenient monthly rates costs more. Now is the time when you should store away $6 to $8 a day to save for gifts. That’s right, skip lunch and brown bag it, you will thank yourself later when you do not have to use credit cards. If you want to set it and forget it, set-up automatic savings transfers. This way you do not have to remember to save.

3. Start shopping now

Shopping months ahead means you can make the most of sales and seasonal pricing trends. Spreading out your spending means you will have multiple pay periods to purchase gifts without feeling the pinch in the month of December.

Are you a crafty person? Are you making your gifts? It’s best to start now so that you are not spending late nights in the middle of December. You will also be able to get craft materials that are not Christmas colored or holiday related. It seems like these pieces always take over the store.

4. Order early

Do you prefer shopping from home instead of maneuvering the malls? Take advantage of the catalogs that are starting to trickle in. Early mail-order and online shopping also allows you to save on shipping. Buy at the last minute and you pay a premium for shipping. Buy early and use the delivery method that is the most economical.

5. Pick your plastic

If you plan on charging your holiday purchases, choose the credit card you want to use by picking the lowest interest rate. One option may be to choose a zero interest card that you can pay off before the high rate hits. We recommend not using credit cards as purchases get out of control. You will rationalize to yourself in a way that will hurt you later on. Check your credit report before accepting any new cards. You will take a big hit if you have bad credit and get rejected or if you accept a high interest card that is difficult to pay off. Stay away from cards if at all possible.

6. Preset the holiday table

Purchase table linen now while they are cheap. You should also think about what goes on the table as well as the table itself. Purchase non-perishable food stuff now before the prices increase. If you are making holiday cookies or baked goods, buy chocolate chips or flour or sugar and leave it in the pantry. It will save money and time later on.

7. Include the family

Don’t forget about the rest of the family. Did last year’s spending get out of control? Before the holiday music hits the airwaves, talk with relatives about this year’s gift policies. Consider trading names, making charitable donations in honor of each other, simply sending cards or baked goods or organizing a gift-free potluck family dinner.

8. Book your holiday travel

Buying plane tickets? Book your tickets now. Each month or even day you wait before purchasing the price will gradually increase until it skyrockets. The longer you wait, the deeper your pockets need to be.

9. Give back to your community

The best way to spread holiday cheer is singing loud for all to hear. The loudest song is the one everyone can benefit from. Think about donating in place of gifts. Not only is this fast and easy, but the cost is what you want it to be. This is a gift that never increases based on availability because generosity is not finite commodity.

Do you have a tip that we did not offer? Leave a post below or Tell us your story.

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