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It always feels like the holiday season comes around and many people start looking for ways to save. Who doesn’t love to put money back in their pocket? Every year it seems like we say we’ll buy less, and then budgets are blown as super-shopping ensues. However, this year is a little different. Situations and plans are all changing at rapid speeds, so maybe it really is time to think about how less can be more. Here are a few tips on how to enjoy the holidays with minimal stress, and without breaking the bank.  

shopping
1. Make a List and Budget

Many people make a list of who they want to buy for and what they’d like to receive, so feel free to make a list and check it twice. Not everyone operates according to a budget, but it’s not a bad idea to project how much you’ll spend on each person. This year, write it down. Make a budget and stick to it. Not only is this helpful for spreading the love evenly, but it’s also much better for your bank account. Once you are done shopping for certain things, check them off your list and record how much you spent. 

2. Plan to Buy Less

As stated before, we often plan to buy fewer gifts than in previous years, but end up with more than enough presents to fit under the tree. Think outside the box. Some of the best gifts aren’t the biggest, but the most thoughtful. Stick to the philosophy of “Something to wear, something to read, something they want, and something they need,” and see how that goes. If you hate it, you can buy more next year. 

3. Shop Early

Sometimes it’s hard to plan ahead in these crazy times of uncertainty, but this is one thing you should do if you can. When you shop early, it spreads out your expenses to make the process more bearable, and sometimes you can get amazing deals. This can alleviate the stresses of last-minute shopping.

4. Shop Local

There are many local shops that need us this holiday season. Go directly to your favorite local retailer or visit a website like TruLocal.com, where you can shop online through your hometown favorites and pick up curbside. You can save on shipping, give back to your community, and find unique and fun gifts for your family. 

5. Shop Around 

Do your research. Don’t jump the gun on buying something. Check out all the places where you can find a certain item, and look for the best price. You can even price-match at many stores these days. Keep your smartphone handy to look up prices on other sites quickly. The best things for your budget and bank account during the holidays are discounts and coupons. Also, check into cash-back programs like Rakuten. These can be easy ways to recoup a little cash if you are shopping online. 

shopping
6. Think Homemade

Do you make a particular type of pie or fudge that everyone loves? Homemade items, edible or not, can garner lots of love and appreciation from others. Taking time out of your life to make gifts is the perfect way to trim spending this year. There’s a lot of inspiration online, but think ornaments, cookies, or even hats and mittens if you knit. Many people appreciate handmade items, and they come with a little extra love.  

7. Try Something New

Maybe this year is a little different, but that doesn’t mean it has to be less joyful. Maybe this is the year when you draw names as a family, so that each family member doesn’t need to purchase as much as in past years. Perhaps you’ve considered giving gifts like memberships to museums or zoos – gifts that go beyond the holiday season. Maybe you’ve even thought about forgoing gifts altogether, and instead plan to give to others as a family. Encourage your little ones to get in on this too. They can go around collecting canned goods to donate to a soup kitchen, money for meals for hospital workers, or donations for a favorite charity. 

Whatever you do this holiday season, remember the reason for the season. It’s a time to share in love and joy. Gifts are not all that matter, so don’t stress about those too much. While this year may look a little different, enjoy it. Sometimes the experiences we have that are different, and not quite what we expected or hoped for, are the best and most memorable. Happy holidays.

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