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Christmas is a beautiful time of the year, but there’s no doubt it can become quite expensive. So, how can you have a wonderful Christmas without going into debt, and save money at the same time?

We’ve put together some tips to help you have an amazing Christmas without emptying your wallet. Let’s get started!

1). Why Do You Give Gifts?

This may seem like a strange place to start with tips on how to save money, but we promise this is part of the equation. Before you plan your budget and start to shop, it’s important to consider why you give gifts in the first place.

Do you give gifts to make yourself feel and look good? Do you give because you feel obligated? Do you give to express care and love? What is the motivation behind your gift-giving? This is where you need to be really honest with yourself.

This exercise is important because it will ultimately determine how much you spend and who is on your Christmas gift list.

2). Review Your Budget

Now we’re ready to take a look at the budget. This is the last thing most people want to consider, yet it’s the most important issue when it comes to Christmas gifts. The tendency is to buy now and then pay in January; however, this is the very kind of thinking that gets people in trouble and deep in debt.

Instead, review your budget and plan how much you’ll spend this year. So, crunch the numbers and see how much money you have after expenses. Then set your budget for gifts. Once you have decided on how much to spend, make a commitment not to go over that amount, even if you’re tempted. You’ll thank yourself come January!

3). Create a List

You’ve got your budget, next it’s time to create a list of people who you’d like to give presents. Be realistic. Ask yourself if it’s really necessary to buy a gift for everyone on the list. Go back to tip #1, where you reviewed the motivation for gift-giving. It’s OK to cut down the list, especially if you really need to save money.

Next, decide on how much to spend for each person. Total the list, and then see how it adds up to the amount you’ve decided is safe to spend. Make sure both totals match.

Now the goal is to stay on target with how much you spend person. Whatever amount you’ve chosen, don’t go over. And if possible, try to stay under that total. You might view the total as a maximum and then try to spend under that.

4). Keep Other Spending to a Minimum

Christmas is an expensive time of the year, there’s no getting around that. However, there’s no need to spend more than you can afford.

If you’re finding it hard to find the money for Christmas, then you may need to reconsider your budget. Take a look to see if you can lower spending in on area and use the savings in your Christmas budget. For instance, you may need cut back on eating out. Or maybe you can forego that expensive nail polish this month. Just look to see if there are other areas where it might be possible to cut down spending and reapply the savings to your Christmas budget.

Save Money on Christmas Gifts

5). Time Together is More Precious

There may be people on your Christmas gift who would much rather spend time with you than receive a gift. So, review your list and see if it might be possible to spend intentional time together. Not only will you save money, but you’ll make these people very happy.

Depending on the circumstances, you consider spending time together in person or virtually. This may be a time when the most precious gift you can give is to spend quality time with loved ones.

6). Shop Early

It’s always a good idea to start shopping early before those Black Friday sales show up. Instead, watch for sales all year long. If it’s already Black Friday time, that’s OK. You can use this tip for next year.

Once the holidays are over, you may be able snag some great buys on items on sale. Many stores try to get rid of excess inventory at this time, so it’s a great time to shop. Then watch for sales all through the year.

Not only will you spread out the spending, but your stress will be lower, too. By the time Christmas comes you’ll have most everything done already! Then you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy the holidays for a change.

7). Give Fewer Gifts

We’ve already touched on this a little bit, but it’s always a good idea to consider cutting down on the number of gifts. Of course, there will be some obligatory giving; however, you may be able to cut down on the number of gifts overall. Remember to review why you’re giving. If it’s only to give, then it may be time to reconsider the holidays with your family.

It’s OK to have a chat with your family and discuss the gift-giving issue. It may be a year when everyone’s having money issues and just can’t muster up the money for gifts. Having that conversation could be a gift in itself.

It could be freeing and allow for an even more connected holiday, without the fuss and stress of gifts. Maybe getting together for a holiday meal would be an option or consider giving stocking stuffers instead. Just have a talk with your family and see what may be possible.

8). Resist the Ads & Retail Marketing

Even before the Christmas season begins, we’re bombarded with ads from everywhere. Not only that but stores also run sales to get our attention. Many of these ads and sales are not really going to save money; in fact, they can make it very tempting to overspend.

This is why it’s crucial to decide on a gift-giving budget, who you’re giving to, and then stick to it. Stay with your budget and commit to not overspending. We said it before and we’ll say it again, you’ll thank yourself come January and the following months!