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6 TIPS TO AN (UN)STRESSFUL HOLIDAY SEASON

'Tis the season of spending!  The National Retail Federation expects retail sales during November and December to be about $682 billion!  (I think we are in the wrong business)  They expect each consumer to spend an average of $967.13.  This is massive spending!  Most Americans get into a ton of debt during this time and spend the better part of the new year trying to pay it down.  Don't let this happen to you!  In this article, I'll offer six of my top tips to ensure you are prepared for next year and keep your spending in check.
 
Tip #1 - The Holiday Season Comes Every Year
Well, duh, Tiffany!  It may seem like I am stating the obvious but every year people wait until the last minute to plan for it.  This is a disaster waiting to happen!  Not planning throughout the year puts you in a position where you have to scrape together the last few paychecks before the holiday to do all of your shopping.  Talk about stressful!  This is what we don't want!

Tip #2 - Put Holiday Gifts in Your Monthly Budget
Building onto the last tip, make holiday gift-giving a line item throughout the year.  Which one sounds more manageable, $970 at once or $40 per pay period?  I would think the latter of the two.  Budget for gifts throughout the year and you won't be left scrambling.  I typically take the money out of the bank each pay period and stick it in an envelope named "Gifts".  I put this envelope out of sight so I am not tempted to spend it.  When it comes time to shop, I know what I can and cannot spend.  Once the money I saved is gone, it's gone!  

Tip #3 - Wait for the Deals
I love a good bargain and generally, those come around Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  That is when I do almost all of my shopping.  Buying when things are on sale or deeply discounted allows my planned budget to get stretched a little further.  The Amazon deals section is where I get most of my deals but this year I had success with Macy's, DSW, Old Navy, and Sam's Club.  Definitely shop around during this time!

Tip #4 - Look for Deals in Unusual Places
If you are a heavy online shopper, like me, there are a multitude of apps that give you cashback just for shopping.  There are others that scour the internet for the best deals so you don't have to.  If you are a newsletter subscriber, I will provide you with a list of my favorites.  You are going to spend the money anyway, might as well get some of your money back!

Tip #5 - Cheap Out on the Wrapping
I get all of my wrapping supplies from the dollar store.  Think about it, no matter how nice or expensive the boxes, wrapping paper, or bags are they still end up in the same place.  Where is that you ask?  The garbage!  Just make it easy on your gift-giving budget and buy from the local dollar store.  This way you can put more money towards the only thing that will last, the actual gift!
(Pro Tip - Shop for supplies after the season is over at big retailers like Target and Walmart.  I usually get supplies for even cheaper than the dollar store.)

Tip #6 - Remember the Real Reason for the Season
The Holidays are a time where we reflect on the last year and be grateful for what we have and accomplished.  Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or something else, the premise is the same.  Spend time with your family and keep spending to a minimum.  This way you can enjoy each other's company stress-free.  Don't start the new year in debt!

Did you enjoy my tips or have any additional ones to share?  Please feel free to comment below.  I would love to hear from you!

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