What Can You Do Now To Avoid Overspending During The Holidays?

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If you're like many shoppers, the holiday season may sneak up on you more each year, leaving you little time to plan a list or prepare for holiday shopping -- especially if you're working with a fairly strict budget. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps you can take now to help you lower your bills (and your stress) when the holiday season rolls around. Here are some shopping and savings tips that can help you save money this year.  

Start setting money aside ASAP

Even if you're not already part of a Christmas Club program, it's never too late to begin setting money aside for your holiday purchases. Putting aside small amounts on a regular basis can add up quickly while having little impact on your daily finances, whereas spending your entire holiday budget over just a week or two can put a big dent into your bank account that month (and the following ones). 

You can get started by setting aside as little as $5 or $10 per week for your holiday shopping needs, either through a formal program through your credit union or just an automatic transfer to a savings account. Alternatively, you may be able to take advantage of a financial program that rounds up your spending to the nearest dollar and automatically transfers the excess into an online savings account.

Look for special offers

Not only have a number of blogs and websites already issued comprehensive lists on what to buy this holiday season to save the most money, many credit cards and store loyalty programs have their own money-saving deals that can slash your costs even further. For example, some credit cards offer higher cash back rates at certain retailers over the holiday season, while your cable company or even your cell phone provider may issue "points" to regular customers that can be redeemed for merchandise or in-store discounts. Before you begin shopping, you may want to do some digging into how to save money with the services you're already using.

Stay organized

Little adds more last-minute stress to the holidays than arriving at a destination to learn that you've forgotten a gift for a guest. You don't want to end the holiday season with a stack of unwrapped gifts that never made their way to the recipient. Staying organized by using a single loose-leaf notebook to compile menu plans, seating charts, schedules, and gifts can go a long way toward minimizing last-minute emergency purchases or leaving you empty-handed at a family gathering.

Hopefully some of these holiday shopping tips and tricks can give you a launching point for your financial planning to help you save time and money and avoid overspending this season.