The conclusion of your Thanksgiving meal commences the holiday shopping season. This year, before you sit down at the table, have a game plan for your spending. It is estimated that the average American spends approximately $700 during this time. The best position to be in is to make sure, regardless of what you spend, that your wallet is intact as the new year begins. Here are four easy ways to budget for the holidays.

Budget Your Gift List

The best way to be cost-effective and budget-friendly during the holiday season is to first map out a holiday budget. In a perfect situation this would be funds that you have been saving up throughout the year. If you skipped this part, be sure to put a plan in place for next year.

If you find yourself questioning how much you should spend, one of the easiest ways to do this is to decide how much disposable income do you have after all of your initial expenses and personal savings are taken care. From this money carve out a total percentage for all gifts. Plan out what you are going to get people based on what you can afford. Focus on getting gifts that people either need or can use often. Go through each person’s name writing out the most important gift that you would like to get them. Once you have assigned each person at least one gift, check the total prices against your spending budget. The goal is to have enough money in your gift budget to cover your gift list. If there is money left over, you can do a couple of things for yourself-such as purchasing your first stock or placing the money in your savings account.

Buy Your Gifts By Priority

If you are nervous about running out of money before buying every gift, try prioritizing. Start shopping for the gifts of those who mean the most to you. Release the pressure of having to purchase a gift for all of your family members, each of your friends, the puppy and the kitten.  The intention of budgeting for the holidays is to not fall under the pressure of overspending.

Take Advantage of the Sales 

Many people have somewhat of an idea of what they want to get their loved ones for the holidays. If you find yourself in that category, take advantage of the major sales that happen following Thanksgiving to save money on your gifts. Whether you decide to shop the day after Thanksgiving, during Small Business Saturday, or on Cyber Monday, there is always a shopping style that can give you savings. Avoid the rush to bypass shipping fees or spikes in pricing the closer that it gets to the actual holiday.

[Tweet “Be careful. Holiday sales can result in overspending.”]

While it’s always great to shop for the lowest costs, be careful-sales can also result in overspending.

Get Creative

Not everyone loves the latest gadgets, scarves, or handbags. Many individuals may enjoy more personalized and sentimental items. Do-it-yourself projects are perfect holiday gift additions to help you save while placing everlasting smiles on the faces of those you love. Capitalize on the things people can use often. A DIY gift could be anything from room accent decor, crafty furniture to organize a home, or framed family photos.

As tough as it can be to avoid excessive shopping or eating out with family and friends throughout the holiday season, remember there are many days ahead that you will need to account for when it comes to your money. Plan ahead and maximize every dollar.

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How will you maximize your holiday budget?

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The Finance Bar is a personal finance suite helping women and couples achieve financial wellness through coaching, education, and an innovative learning hub on wheels. Creator Marsha Barnes is a Certified Financial Social Worker, Official FICO Brand Ambassador, and was named the 2018 Best Money Expert in the Net-Worth Category.

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