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Budgeting for holiday shopping (and holding)

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This story is part of Holiday Survival Guide 201

9 with tips on the best ways to manage the holiday season.

Holiday stress is real. Whether you're worried about family visits or can buy everything your loved ones want, it's not a good time for everyone.

A recent Bankrate survey found that more than 60% of Americans feel pressure to spend more than they can afford during the holidays. Seeing friends, family and people on social media with extensive holiday celebrations can make you feel that you have to compete.

But you don't have to. In fact, you can save yourself the stress and extensive expenses by setting a budget – and sticking to it.

Read more : Guide to holiday gifts 2019

1. Set a strict dollar amount

From waste bins to doorbusters, you can exceed faster than you think. Start by thinking about how much you want to spend this year without going crazy – or being broke. That can be $ 100, $ 500, $ 1,000 or whatever you want and your budget allows it. What works for your family may not work for someone else's. Ideally, you would have put money aside for shopping for vacation months ago; if you have not done that, work strictly with what you have.

It can help to view your finances, such as how much leeway you have in your household budget, to see where extra money can come from. Try not to think about exceeding your credit card limit because you could incur a high balance from month to month and incur high interest costs. That means that you pay much more for the gift than it originally cost. Instead, think about how much cash you have on hand that you will use to fully pay your credit card balance at the end of the month.

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2. Make a list (and check it twice)

There is a good chance that your list will be longer than necessary. Try to limit your list as much as possible. It is easy to feel that you need to buy something for someone, but you probably won't.

Gifts are not a mandatory part of the holiday, although they are a nice gesture. Consider who you want to spend your hard-earned money on and who will get a thoughtful card. Another strategy is to make contact with friends and family in advance in order to set a limit for gifts or to abandon gifts. This becomes easier every year.

3. Don't buy everyone everything

Once your list has been cut, you have a better idea for who to buy and you can now concentrate on what to buy. Instead of many gifts for everyone, consider a few gifts for a few people.

This can be difficult if you have children in your life that you would like to spoil during the holidays. Although it is nice to see children tearing open the wrapping paper and equipping their last gift, it is not necessary. Take the time to consider a few useful gifts – or maybe even just one! – for everyone on your list. The care and thoughtfulness are more powerful than the quantity.

Read more : The best gifts under $ 25

4. Make some food

Collecting for the holidays means that there will be enough food. If you host something at home, it is easy to feel that you have to do everything yourself. But you don't have to.

Many people like to throw in a dish if you ask them. Ask all guests to bring something and keep the list handy so that you do not have too many duplicate items. If you are on your way to a Friendsgiving or similar gathering, offer to take something from yourself.

Eating is also a good alternative to a traditional gift. Whether you pack homemade goodies for your loved ones or organize a holiday at home, it doesn't feel like you have to do it all .

Read more : 15 simple tips for eating a healthy holiday

5. Your presence is a gift

When you see your loved ones open gifts, your heart can grow two measures. It is clear that the gift is much better than getting a gift. But there is something else you can give: your time.

Remember the moments with your loved ones when you were younger. Do you remember all the toys or games that you got more than you spent time with? Maybe you were thrilled to buy a new bike, but who taught you how to ride?

Giving experiences instead of things is a bigger gift than you might realize. Consider things like:

  • Making a meal or dish with someone
  • Taking someone to a movie or to his favorite restaurant
  • A trip to the aquarium, the national park, the zoo or the museum
  • To a go concert, musical or play
  • Play a game with their favorite sports team
  • Time to teach them a new skill, take a walk in the park, throw the ball in the backyard or play together on your favorite TV program [19659037] And there are countless other ways you can devote your time in a meaningful way to someone you love. Once you have limited who you buy to, you can save money in the long run by gaining more meaningful experiences.

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