Want to ring in the New Year with no depressing holiday debt to repay? You can. Here’s how to celebrate for less – and enjoy the season more.

Set a spending cap
Determine the amount you are willing to spend on the entire holiday season. The figure you choose should not put stress on normal essential expenses or detract from other important goals. Be happy with it, even if the amount is modest.

Make a list
Write down the projected cost of each of your holiday expenses – from gifts, to decorations, to cards and postage. The key is to work within your spending cap. If the cash is spread too thin, cut down or cut out.

If you really want to spend…earn
That financial limit just too low for comfort? Consider such income boosters as short or part-time employment, or work overtime, if it’s available. If you’re crafty, make and sell things. Think outside the (gift) box.

Research the best price and place
Seek the best deals using coupons, newspaper advertisements, and the Internet. Know what you want and where to get it before hitting the mall. Then watch others frantically shopping – while you merrily sip a latte!

Buy online
The Internet allows for fast, focused spending. You can even have the items gift-wrapped for a nominal charge and have it shipped directly to where you want it to go. And what could be better than avoiding long post office lines?

Set expectations
Discuss your financial parameters with loved ones long before exchanging gifts. Many children (and adults!) will want and even expect expensive items, so if your budget won’t allow it, let them know now. They’ll adjust – really.

Use cash
When shopping, the best way to avoid exceeding your budget is to leave the credit cards at home and use your debit card instead. What’s more, it’s safer than carrying a large wad of bills, and the account statement will help you track spending.

Reconsider obligatory spending
Dread certain expensive holiday-specific customs, but do them because you’re “supposed to”? This year, consider dropping traditions you don’t value but cost a lot. If you genuinely miss them, you can pick them up again next year.

Forget gifts – throw a party
Want to simplify your life as well as lighten your spending? In lieu of traditional presents, throw a holiday party (potlucks can keep costs down even further). Take photos and give them as gifts so the event will be remembered for years.

Have a joyful and financially
sound New Year!

Holiday Spending Stats:
  • Without setting a predetermined maximum, people spend 36 percent more for gifts than with one.
  • Only 45 percent of consumers repay holiday credit card debt within six months.
  • The average American spends approximately $500 on holiday presents.
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