During the holiday season, we manage to become both frugal yet extravagant spenders. It is a very interesting contradiction, wrought  by the necessity to give, perhaps beyond our means and yet, try to save as much money as we can. But alas, we are here to help! Are you tired of barely having a dollar to your name by December 26th? Our guide will effectively teach you how NOT to go broke this holiday season. (Or a little less broke.) There are several ways to save during the holiday season and the most effective way to do so is to do the following: organize. Organization is key. The first step is for one to decide exactly how much they wish to spend. After all, blind shopping is dangerous. There must be lists, a plan. Remember, you ARE santa. Make yourself a comprehensive list, and as the song goes, check it twice. Make sure everyone on that list is nice and not naughty. Going over your designated budget to gift a troll is not recommended. Keep your list limited. Susan from accounting, who you’ve spoken to once after she shared her egg salad sandwhich with you that time you forgot lunch and didn’t have enough cash to make it to Chipotle does not need a gift. You may give her a candy cane or well wishes. That is enough. But yes, keep that list tight. You will set a dollar amount for everyone, which coincedentally, is step two.

The holidays attribute to a large amount of debt, something consumers dread and we’re sure credit card companies and the like rejoice at the thought of.  So, a quick review for those of all who get a little lost in the beginning , scratching their heads at the thought of being thrifty when shopping. Step one, make a list of the people that you want to bless with gifts. Now, you will be setting a budget. I know, I know. Budgeting?! But, realistically, your christmas list should read like a grocery list. You should list what you need, and the projected price of said needs, and if you want to spoil yourself, wants. For example, milk, bread, and nutella, all necessties. Soda and wine? These are wants. In direct mention to christmas shopping, you don’t need to buy fancy wrapping paper made with crystals and fairy dust. (And if you’re a guy who is offended by the thought of buying such paper, I suppose ugly wrapping paper that smells of sawdust and whatever “manly” scent you prefer is fine as well.) While I understand the appeal in such magical wrapping paper, it’s not ideal. Budgeting  MATTERS. I mentioned before that setting a budget and a spending limit for everyone on your new and improved list will improve your chances of saving. Here’s another tidbit. Holiday deals and coupons! Duh! And if your’re a veteran or a student, you’re in luck. Sites such as retailmenot, Unidays(for college students), and other coupon sites cater to those searching for a way to save, offering a wide variety of coupons and savings for being a broke college student or those looking for a bargain. Do not squander your opportunity to save 20% off or $20 off your entire purchase. Tally up your overall expenses after factoring in how much you will save with deals.

Now that we’ve covered privatizing people on our lists and budgeting, we shall discuss the HOW , as in HOW are we paying for our gifts this year? I would recommend that you do not go beyond the inducible budget you’ve already calculated and in order to do so… pay in cash. That’s right, folks. I know paying via debit card is much easier. However, debit cards don’t compare to cash. With cash, you can see how much is being spent and you aren’t going to spend any more, because unlike a debit card, cash is exact. When that money is gone, it’s a sign that your holiday shopping is over. If you DO insist on paying via debit/credit card, please remember to only spend 30% of what your credit card limit is. Credit cards are fun, until you’re hit with interest and stuck paying $27 a month for three years on a splurge. Stick to buying your larger, more expensive items on cash, or if building credit, set the money aside, buy it via credit and pay off the balance immediately. Don’t let the Christmas spirit leave you with buyer’s remorse. Shop smart and pay smart.

Ok, folks. We’re at the end of the road here. Let’s review, one more time. Set a budget before you even decide your list. If your budget this year is $2,000, you will spend accordingly and find a way to make it work. Making a list before setting a budget usually allows you to add more and more people to the list, expanding your budget. Two, make your gift lists. Finalize your list. It should include the people that are truly significant. Three, search for deals. This can include you taking advantage of your status as student, or use thrifty online coupon sites. Four, decide hw you want to pay and TRY to not end up opening a new credit card and buy things that will have you scratching our head later, because, NO the $200 deer light accessories for your lawn were NOT a necessary purchase. Neither was your eight foot tree. That’s all, kids. Hopefully, you follow these guidelines and save yourself some bucks this year.

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