Can you feel it? The trifecta of holidays is coming… Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s! I love the good cheer,  shopping and festivities but I know from experience, these few weeks can be VERY EXPENSIVE.  I just started my holiday  planning and I thought I would share with you some simple and smart strategies so in January, we’re both smiling and feeling the budget love.

Here are 5 ways to stay on budget and still enjoy the holidays like you should.

1. Party Responsibly 

Holiday parties can be expensive. Celebrating with family, friends and co-workers should always be a priority but going broke should not. When you add all the costs for tickets, clothes, food, drinks, hostess gifts and more, you can easily spend hundreds of dollars! When needed, be confident and okay with the decision to RSVP as ‘not attending’ without feeling guilty. Instead, look for other creative party ideas such as potlucks, home get togethers, and/or white elephant gift exchanges. If the occasion just can’t be missed and you still need to look cute and fabulous, search for local or online dress rental services which can include pick-up and dry cleaning for as low as $100! Also, don’t forget to shop your favorite consignment shops and boutiques. The earlier you start, the higher your chances for scoring big!

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2. Agree on Gift Giving in Advance – Ask for Their Favorite Things

Don’t be shy about asking loved ones for a list of their favorite things. We all know Oprah has her famous list and I’m sure it makes gift giving easier for Gayle and Stedman! Wink, wink! But seriously, if I can give exactly what you’ve been wanting all year, it’s a win-win for us both. You’re getting something you really want and I’m spending without fear that the green sweater I picked won’t end up buried in your closet, or worst, re-gifted to someone else! If you prefer to keep an element of surprise to your holiday gift giving, begin listening carefully for clues or hints that will help you find just the right gift. And of course, the gift card is still a favorite which allows them to buy exactly what they want.

 

3. Start Your November and December Checklists Now

Writing down activities and goals goes a long way. It’s effective (and therapeutic) to download the important stuff from the thousands of thoughts we have each day. Here are just a few checklists to start with…Where are we having Thanksgiving dinner? Who’s hosting Christmas breakfast? Where is the local tree-lighting event? Which charities will you support and how? Who and what’s on the Christmas gift list? While I love writing in journals and calendars, I find the Notes app on my iPhone to be the best for checklists. Whenever the spark hits, I can quickly open Notes and add thoughts, checklists, photos, websites, and more. And with the versatility of the iOS ecosystem, my devices are synced and I can easily share notes and checklists with others. Easy.

 

4. Take Inventory First, Shop Second

Before you buy a box of tinsel or a holiday dress, first, take inventory of everything you already have. Right before Halloween, several retail chains moved to stock their shelves and aisles with Thanksgiving and Christmas supplies, decorations and more. The temptation will be strong to fill your cart with the latest shiny things, but before you do, go home and pull out everything you already have. Chances are that you already have what you need to decorate the house, hang the wreath and to look stylish and cute as the holidays roll in.

 

5. Set Your New Year’s Resolutions Now

According to StaticBrain.com, Better Financial Decisions ranked 3rd on the Top 10 New Years Resolutions list for 2017. People are normally resolving to make better decisions relating to saving money and paying off debt, especially debt which  they just created in December! Instead of waiting for January to have a light bulb moment, decide now to write your goals, ditch the credit cards and only buy what you can afford with cash. You may have to change some habits or traditions, and unsubscribe your email from a few retailers, but it’s worth it so you can proudly and confidently enjoy the holidays within your means.

What are you planning to do differently this year so you’re more in control of your spending? I would love to hear from you!