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Take a Holiday from Holiday Spending

The holidays are a time to reconvene, reflect and celebrate. And yet, for many, they also mark one of the year’s most stressful financial periods, due to the often increased levels of holiday spending brought on by the search for gifts, time spent travelling or vacationing, the preparation and planning of events with family and friends, and other festive travails – not to mention the explosion of promotions and sales at many retailers. Enjoying your holidays should be the first priority on your list, but you can do so without putting a damper on your year-round savings goals – or being a veritable Scrooge to your loved ones and guests.

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For many individuals and families, increased holiday spending simply isn’t justifiable given their financial situation and broader savings needs. In order to keep the holiday season from impacting your budget, focus on the people rather than the pageantry. Consider that the amount you spend on gifts, get-togethers and the like matters less than the time you can spend with those you care about, or the small gestures that let others know you appreciate them.

Managing your holiday spending limits is about choice, not sacrifice. You can feel better, set a great example and enjoy your holiday traditions more if the shock of post-holiday bills is reduced. Overdoing things in the name of frugality may add to your stress and take away from the enjoyment of this time of year. Set a budget early: make a list, check it twice, and stick to it. Plan one get-together with the friends or family you want to share time with, rather than making a point of attending the whole array of events that may be on offer. And give yourself the gift of a more financially stable approach to the new year – a reward in its own right whose effects will last longer than the momentary appeal of any holiday purchase.