Along with good cheer, the holidays bring so many expenses–Christmas parties, travel, decorations and groceries. Without a holiday budget, this can get out of hand so if you need some advice on how to manage things and how to save money for Christmas, read along.

Make Lists

What you need to do first is make lists of the things you need to buy and the food you need to prepare for the festive season. Having lists will help you plan your spending and keep you on track.

Presents – Make a list of who you’re buying for, what you want to get them, and how much money you’re prepared to spend on each person.

Entertainment supplies – List the food and drinks you’ll need, and how much you can spend. Buy in advance where possible to take advantage of specials, especially if items can be frozen or have a long shelf life.

Travel plans – Whether you’re flying or driving, there are ways to save on holiday travel costs. List all your costs like flights, accommodation, travel insurance, airport transfers and petrol. Shop around for deals as early as you can, to avoid paying a premium for last-minute bookings or peak season increases. If you’re going on a driving holiday, work out which day is cheapest to fill up on petrol, and do it the week before Christmas.

Set a Budget

After making the lists, you are going to need money to spend. But before starting to spend, you should probably set a budget, so that you can control your spendings.

In MoneyCoach you can easily create a special Christmas budget and keep track of your spendings. Knowing your budget, it gets easier to shop and stops you from getting crazy with all the Christmas spendings. You might still want to survive after Christmas, so it’s not a good idea to spend limitlessly.

Cut Back On Extras

It is hard to save money, especially during holidays but one thing you can do is cut back on extras. Getting lattes piled sky-high with whipped cream, splurging on a pair of shoes for yourself, paying for a photo with Santa – we’re all guilty of indulging a little more than we should simply because it’s the holiday season. However, you can’t get stuck in a trap where constant spending on “extras” eats into your budget.

Cutting back on those extras can have a big impact on your bottom line. For example, if you purchase a $4.50 pumpkin spice latte three times per week throughout December, that’s $162 you’ve spent on pricey drinks. That money could have paid for a few Christmas gifts, enough gas to get to Grandma’s house, or a generous donation to a charity of your choice. Before you splurge on a little treat or “extra” for yourself, be sure it’s really worth the price.

When your lists are finished and you’ve got everything you need, it’s time to stop shopping. Know when you’re finished and avoid stopping by the mall “just to see what they have” – this can lead to making poorly planned purchases and blowing your budget.

It’s all too easy to get caught up in the spending cycle during the holidays. Marketing campaigns are geared toward making you open your wallet in the spirit of Christmas, so it’s hard not to fall prey. However, if you’ve got a plan in place and know how to stretch each holiday dollar, you don’t have to fear your bank account statement on December 26th.

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