How to Spend Less Money This Christmas

Stocking Money

Almost everything about the holidays is great, but there’s usually one tiny downside: money. Between buying gifts and any other festivities with friends and family, the holidays get expensive quickly, and most people struggle with it. Even if you’re great at budgeting, it’s hard to spend less money this time of year.

In fact, 1 in 3 Americans expects to take on debt this holiday season, according to CNBC.

But during this joyous time of year, you shouldn’t have to feel weighed down by money. In fact, with a few tips and tweaks to your shopping plan, you might not have as much financial stress and be able to keep more money in your bank account. Here are some ways you can prevent your wallet from being a Scrooge this year and how to enjoy Christmas without money woes:

Avoid Adding Any Debt

Have you conducted a credit check lately? The average American adult has nearly $30,000 in outstanding debt, according to Northwestern Mutual. Many of us have debts from student loans, to auto loans to mortgages. Although, nearly a quarter of that debt comes from credit card spending since consumers tend to use their cards more often around the holidays.

Taking on debt to cover your Christmas spending is generally a bad idea for your financial health, especially if you have any outstanding debt; this can really affect your credit score. Wherever possible, pay with cash instead of credit since your annual percentage rate will end up costing you extra overtime if bills aren’t paid in full.

See Also: How to Get Out of Credit Card Debt

You may have also heard of holiday loans – personal loans you can use to finance holiday shopping, for either in-store or shopping online. While everyone’s situation is different, taking out a holiday loan usually isn’t a wise financial move.

Loans usually come with lower interest rates than credit cards, but you’re still spending money you don’t have and need to repay later. Instead of taking on debt to get a gift for everyone on your list, try shrinking your list even if your finances are in good standing.

Limiting What You Buy

One of the most popular mediums of exchange is the famous Secret Santa or White Elephant. Each person in your group buys a gift for someone and no one else knows who it is until you exchange! This is the best, time-tested way to turn a cluttered gift list into a simple gift swap. Talk to your friends about trying it this year if you haven’t already. Not only does it help take off the pressure of needing to find gifts for a lot of people, but you can also set a price limit and make sure it fits within your budget while getting the perfect gift for your person.

Also, leave the gift-giving to Santa Claus this year and consider cutting out gifts to most adults. While it is a nice gesture, there are better, cheaper ways to spread holiday cheer than with an expensive present. You could end up spending on a gift that the recipient doesn’t need or use, which benefits nobody.

Homemade gifts can work nicely as well. You can save money by making a present yourself and giving it a more personal touch too. Maybe a framed photo or even make fun “coupons” for the giftee to redeem to spend time with you. Small gestures like baking cookies and dividing them up in small portions tied with a bow would be great for teachers or the helpful adults in your life.

Ultimately, be upfront with the people close to you and talk about alternatives to the typical gift-giving routine. Perhaps they’re feeling the money crunch too and may be relieved that you brought it up.

Plan, Plan, Plan

When it comes time to shop, a little bit of preparation can save you a lot of money. Setting a holiday budget and sticking to it is the most important step. Plan in advance how much you want to spend and don’t budge when you get to the store. A well-thought-out shopping list can make this even easier.

With the current supply chain crisis, it’s important to research ahead of time to see where you can get the best deals for items on your list. Sign up for email newsletters and follow the social media feeds of your favorite stores to keep an extra eye out for savings. The more you plan, the less likely you are to break your budget and go on a shopping spree. And while you’re shopping, go ahead and use cash back apps to get back as much as you can.

Read More: 5 Simple Ways To Earn Extra Cash Before The Holiday Rush