How to Avoid Overspending During the Holidays

‘Tis the season to eat, drink, and be merry—and also not work your way into debt. The holidays are fun, but all of the extra expenses can add up quickly and throw your budget completely off track. But it doesn’t need to be that way!

With a little planning you can make it through the festive season without overspending and start 2016 on the right foot, financially.

1. Cutback on unnecessary spending
While the holiday period can feel like the perfect time to excuse pretty much any expenditure, making small adjustments and saving just a little bit of extra cash can really go a long way in covering some of your extra holiday spending. Whether it be skipping dinners out, bringing your lunch to work, or eliminating a morning coffee run, cutting back on these small things helps you enjoy spending for the holidays, guilt-free.

Participating in November’s #TEG30DAYCHALLENCE is a great way to excercise your small savings habits. Tell us what you’re doing to save, how much you plan to stash away and why, on Instagram. Tag your photo with #TEG30DayChallenge and keep us posted throughout the month on how it’s going. We’ll be posting ten of our favorite savings stories and be giving away two $250 Visa gift cards to give a little extra oomph to your efforts.

2. Earn more
Saving and budgeting wisely can only get you so far. If you need a little extra cash to fully enjoy the holiday season, look for ways to earn extra money on the side. There are always opportunities for part-time seasonal help in retail stores, but if you’re looking for something a bit more flexible, consider spending a few nights babysitting or doing some odd jobs using Task Rabbit. You could also do your spring-cleaning a little early and sell any items you no longer want on e-bay.

3. Make a list and a budget
No one likes the awkwardness of forgetting a key person on their holiday gift list. Creating a list will not only help you avoid this situation, but it can help you keep your gift giving spending in check. List out everything you plan to spend money on (include gifts, holiday outfits, entertaining costs) and the amount you’ve budgeted to spend. Keep this list and budget top of mind each time you buy another holiday item.

Spending a lot of money on a gift doesn’t necessarily make it a good gift.

4. Create a separate savings account for holiday spending
Even when you think you’re paying attention to your spending, little things can add up and derail your holiday budget. Create a separate holiday bank account so it’s easy to see exactly what you’ve spent and what is remaining. Every time you save a little from #TEG30DAYCHALLENGE or earn a little extra money, put that cash in your holiday savings account. Bonus: Keep this account for next year and start contributing to it earlier. Putting away small amounts (even $25) each month can really add up over the year.

5. Focus on thoughtful giving
Spending a lot of money on a gift doesn’t necessarily make it a good gift. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the sales or the idea that you need to spend a certain amount on a gift, but the old adage really does hold true: It’s the thought that counts. Take some time to really think about what the people on your gift list would enjoy. The best gift I ever gave my Dad was a copy of a hard to find movie he had raved about. It cost $14.99 but he appreciated it more than a present 10 times the price.

6. Get creative with celebrations
If you love entertaining during the holidays, but hate how much it can cost to have people over, get creative with your party. Invite your girlfriends over for a cookie making party or host a cookie exchange or host a potluck dinner party where each person brings their favorite holiday dish. It’s easier, cheaper, and probably more fun!

Tell us, how do you plan on saving money this holiday season?