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Holiday spending is expected to be healthy even with recent inflationary challenges, as the National Retail Federation today forecast that holiday retail sales during November and December will grow between 6% and 8% over 2021 to between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion. That fact makes it understandable why so many people stress out more frequently during the holiday season. To avoid a financial burden and stressful time of year, you must be strategic. This is how you can budget and enjoy your holiday season.

Utilize yourself.

When you were little, everyone loved homemade gifts. Why does that have to change? If there is something that you excel at, such as arts and crafts, building, knitting, etc., you can save money on gifts! Leveraging your talents saves you money and gives you and the recipient of a gift a heartfelt feeling.

Budget. Budget. Budget.

For gifts that will require your purchase, create a budget. And stick to it. Create a list of people you need to buy for and the amount you will spend. If necessary, this budget should also include travel, wrapping paper, food, decor, etc. This will hopefully hold you accountable whenever you take out your credit card.

Shipping Costs.

You may think you have found a gift that fits your budget perfectly until you get to the checkout screen. When budgeting, you need to consider shipping costs! These costs can add up quickly, and typically we forget about them. Be sure to check out emails and promotions on websites for free shipping, as many stores try to leverage that during the holiday season.

Secret Santa.

Having a big group of friends is great – until you have to buy them all gifts. To make this easier on everyone’s wallet, do a gift swap or secret Santa. This adds an element of fun and surprise while also saving you money. Use some of the money you are not spending on gifts to plan a fun night for you and your friends to exchange gifts. Everyone can bring an appetizer or drink, and you can all enjoy the night!

Cut Back.

Temporarily give some things up during the holiday season. Do you need 2 cups of coffee from Starbucks a day? Can you bring lunch from home instead of getting food at the cafe at work? You would be surprised how much you can save by cutting unnecessary spending for a few weeks.