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It’s that time of year again! We all run around like mad men trying to find the perfect gift and host the best party. By the end of it all, our checking accounts are bare and our bodies are running on empty. Take a deep breath and slow down. It doesn’t have to be so hectic – take a deep breath, slow down, and read a few tips to help control your holiday spending and hopefully make it less stressful.

One of the most important things you can do is set limits on your holiday spending. I know it doesn’t sound fun, but it’ll help keep you in line. The first thing to do is make a list of all people you need to buy gifts for and assign an amount to them. Next, you’ll want to figure out what you plan to spend on decorations, food, holiday outfits, etc. and add that in to the budget. As always, the most important thing is to make sure you stick the dollar amounts that you set.

Are you on a tight budget this year? If so, maybe you should consider homemade gifts. What better way to show you care than giving a gift from the heart. This might not work for everyone on your list and that’s ok. You can knock out parents and grandparents this way. Not every gift has to be over the top and expensive. Another alternative is getting gently used items from places like Ebay or Gamestop. This can save a ton versus buying it brand new off the shelf. You’ll also want to make sure to shop around. Just because you see it at Best Buy doesn’t mean that it’s the best price.

Probably the best way to curb your spending and reduce the stress is to prepare the whole year. Its a little too late for this now, but why not get a head start for next year. You can set up a “holiday” account at your bank to save throughout the year. You can make your life even easier if you set up an automatic transfer. You can’t spend it if you don’t see it. Doing this will take the burden off your checking account and prevent you from going into debt.

Again, these are just a few tips. They may not all work for you. Find what does work and stick to it. Remember self-control can make or break your holiday spending, so reign yourself in and remember your budget!