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Holiday Spending Survival Guide

Budgeting for Holidays

Are you crazy for the holidays, spending thousands of dollars on holiday gifts, lights, entertaining, food and decorations each year? If so, you’re not alone. Many Americans feel the sting of holiday spending well into the new year. If you love to celebrate the holidays but don’t love the financial pinch you experience afterward, there are several great tricks for giving and celebrating, without breaking the bank.

So when you’re out battling the holiday crowds and heading to social commitments with family and friends, consider your wallet and protect your budget with these simple tips:

1. Know your limit. Sit down and plan out your holiday budget before you head to the malls this year. Gifts, large or small, can really add up, leaving you with a hefty bill at the end of the season. Use this free Holiday Budget Calculator to estimate how much you plan to spend on presents. Then keep track of your spending using this Gift Log.

2. Plan ahead. You’ve done your budget and you’re ready to tackle the crowds. Here are a few ways to save on shopping, whether online or in the stores:

  • Look for special “savings days” at your favorite retail stores.
  • Use coupons from your newspaper, online or in-store.
  • Take advantage of free shipping with online purchases.
  • Buy gifts throughout the year, not just during the peak season.

3. Trim your list. Do you really need to exchange gifts with everyone in your family? Consider cutting your list back this year. Or suggest giving a group gift to certain members of your family rather than individual gifts. Just because you had a long gift list last year doesn’t mean you need to repeat it this year. You may find that other members of your family love the idea.

4. Reduce your stress. The holiday season is stressful enough with demands from family and friends, not to mention social commitments for work or other groups. Try to plan ahead as much as possible, avoiding last-minute buys will impact your budget. Also remember to maintain your daily routines to keep stress levels low. If you usually take a walk or go to the gym every day, take the time to continue the habit during the hectic holiday months.

5. Enjoy the season. In the end, the holidays are all about enjoying friends and family. Staying focused on time with loved ones and other joys of the season can help you to keep stress in perspective. If you are hosting holiday parties at your home, use this Entertainment Planner to plan for the costs. Rather than feeling obligated to host an event every year, suggest a rotation for who will host holiday gatherings. And remember that it’s much better to keep spending down and stick to your budget. It’s a great feeling to start off the new year on the right financial foot.

To see how consumers were planning on spending during the holidays in recent years, read more in Visa’s Gift Giving Survey.

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