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7 Smart and Easy Ways to Take the Financial Stress Out of the Holidays

The holidays are a wonderful part of the year, but they can also put a lot of strain on your bank account: gifts, parties, clothes and events all add up faster than you think, which is a shame, because the holidays are a time to celebrate each other, not worry over money.

Luckily, we’ve got the answer on how you can enjoy the holidays without having to worry about your wallet the whole time. Here are our top 7 picks.

Secret Santa

When it comes down to it, giving gifts on Christmas can feel more like a chore than a way of showing those close to you how much you care about them. A way you can bring back some of the magic while cutting back on the overall cost of the holidays is to suggest doing a Secret Santa with your family or circle of friends. Buying one gift is far more affordable than twelve, and you can actually put in the extra thought and effort to make it special.

Sales

This one is a little bit of a double-edged sword. Used in moderation, holiday sales can be a great way of saving money on gifts, decorations, and other holiday necessities, but it’s also easy to get carried away and buy things you don’t truly need. It’s hard to say no to a good deal, even when you really don’t have the money in your budget to spend on it.

To keep yourself from getting carried away, always write up a list of the essentials you need before going shopping. If a sale happens to match up with something on the list, then great. But if it doesn’t, just keep walking.

Homemade Decorations

Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas: all have the traditional decorations that go along with them, and each year it feels like you can’t go the store without stumbling on a new one you just have to have. But how do you avoid decoration overload and the extra expense that goes along with it?

This holiday season, try making your own decorations: carved pumpkins, hand turkeys, and string paper angels are cheaper than porcelain and plastic and won’t have to be stored until next year. You can simply recycle them after the holidays and make new ones next year.

Potluck

If you’re throwing a party, making it potluck is a good way of offsetting costs and take some of the financial burden off you. Have everyone bring their favorite dish, dessert or beverage. This isn’t just a good way of saving money, but also lets everyone feel like they’re contributing something to the party.

Avoid Vacations

This one may be a hard to swallow, but vacations are simply expensive. If you do plan on taking a vacation, be sure to save up money throughout the year, and try to get sales on your plane tickets. Also think about downsizing your plans: instead of going to Hawaii or taking a cruise, why not take a trip to an attraction or point of interest a little closer to home? A road trip is always cheaper than a plane ticket.

Know Where Your Money Goes

Why is this important? It’s simple: to make good decisions you need to have good information. In the flurry of activity that is the holidays, it’s easy to lose track of how much you’ve spent and what money goes where. Thankfully there are apps designed specifically to help you track your expenses.

Mint is the leader of the pack as it automatically sorts your spending based on type, but there are many other apps available which do the same thing. Find the one that works best for you, or just go old school and track your expenses manually with a pen and notebook.

Title Loans

There’s nothing worse than getting hit by a cash emergency or medical bill during the holiday season. But one way of handling one if it does hit is with the help of title loans. Title loans are short-term loans that could net you up to $15,000 in cash in as little as 30 minutes. If you’re looking for a way to take the financial stress out of your holidays, the speed and convenience of these loans is hard to beat.