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Before the holidays kick off, it is crucial to plan ahead and be mindful of how much money you are spending on gifts, decorations, and other seasonal purchases. If you want to make sure your finances are in check for the New Year, start by implementing these financial management tips now to avoid your holiday spending from getting out of hand.

Create a Budget for the Holidays in Advance

Create a detailed budget for all your holiday-related costs. This should include items such as stamps for holiday cards, wrapping paper, gifts, and travel expenses. Set a total amount you can afford to spend, then divide it accordingly. Make sure to be as specific as possible to avoid any extra, unexpected costs. It is easy to be taken in by the festive atmosphere and end up making unforeseen purchases. Establishing a budget prior to the season beginning will enable you to designate the amount of money you can use for presents, groceries, activities, and any other holiday-related expenses.

Take Caution When Using Your Credit Cards

Before using credit cards to cover your holiday spending, it is important to assess your current situation. Make a list of the amount of debt you already have on your cards, and be sure to consider the effect this has on your debt-to-credit ratio, which most lenders prefer to keep at or below 30 percent. To ensure you don’t overuse or max out your credit, set a hard limit on the amount of credit you plan to spend throughout the season, and be sure to stick to it.

Save Now—Spend Later

Creating a savings plan is a great way to form a lifelong savings habit. During the holidays, having some money saved can take the pressure off your wallet. Decide how much you can comfortably set aside from each paycheck – be it monthly, semi-monthly or weekly – and make sure it goes directly into a separate savings account. Even if it’s only $5 a day, that adds up to $35 a week or $1,820 a year. You can then use this money to cover your holiday expenses, pay down debt, or prepare for retirement. Once you get comfortable saving weekly, increase that amount, and you’ll have a sound financial strategy that guarantees financial stability.

Get Crafty When You Can

A homemade gift is truly the perfect way to express your love to someone. It sets the recipient apart in knowing that they own a unique item or have a delicious snack you made yourself. If you are not the crafty type or don’t have the funds to buy something for everyone, you could create your own “gift cards.” Maybe you can help a relative by lending a hand with chores around their home or volunteering to babysit for friends with children who need a night out. No matter whether you spend money, make something or donate your time, the act of giving shows you care, and some gifts are simply priceless.

Begin Organizing Your Travel Plans Early

If you’re part of the 115 million Americans who take a trip during the holidays, you are aware of how quickly the costs of airline tickets, renting a car and paying for gas or other transportation add up. Travel businesses such as airlines, train stations, and hotels usually have increased rates at this time of year, and these prices get even higher as we approach the end of the year.