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For most people, the holiday season around Christmas and the New Year can be one of the most costly of the year, with not just gifts to think about but also vacations, get-togethers, decorations, and outfits to potentially spend money on.

As such, if you don’t want to be faced with a huge credit card bill and/or depleted savings when January comes, it’s important to look at ways you can enjoy the holiday period without totally blowing the budget. Read on for some key tips you can follow to cut back your spending, and the stress that can come with trying to pay for it.

Set Yourself a Budget for the Festive Season

To help you avoid a financial blowout over the Christmas and New Year period, it’s wise to set yourself a strict budget that you can adhere to over December and January. Because it is really easy to forget about finances when you’re having fun shopping, catching up with friends or family members, enjoying a vacation, or celebrating the end of the year with a few drinks, having a budget in place can be a good reminder and help keep you on track.

Once you have a budget set, you can use this to determine whether or not you can afford to spend money on something. This way, rather than finding yourself at a weak moment when your willpower is low, and you think “it will be fine,” you will instead simply need to look at where your spending is at and determine whether there’s room in that area of your budget for the cost or not.

Have a Plan

Another good strategy to use is to put a plan in place for those times during the festive period when you know temptations will be rife and it will be easy to blow your budget. Think about the activities or events where you typically end up spending more than you should have, and put a plan in place to avoid overspending at these times.

For example, for many people this can be when they’ve had a few drinks at their local bar with friends. When inhibitions are lowered due to alcohol, it’s easy to throw monetary caution to the wind and start ordering expensive cocktails or shooting rounds. To steer clear of this kind of situation then, plan to be the designated driver for the night so that your alcohol consumption will be limited, or leave your credit card at home and only take a set amount of cash to see you through.

No matter what your weak spot happens to be (and it could be shopping for new outfits, buying presents for your kids, organizing a vacation, and more), if you come up with a plan in advance, this will make it much easier to adhere to a budget and breathe easier when your January credit card statement arrives.

Spend More Time with Friends and Family at Home

Another good way to reduce your festive season partying expenses is to stop going out for so many get-togethers with friends, colleagues, and family members. It’s easy for nights out at bars and pubs, or meals at restaurants, to quickly slash into your budget, so organizing at-home events can make a huge difference.

By asking people over to your house, or taking it in turns with others to host meals, you can save money not just on food and beverages, but also expenses such as taxis and babysitting. You’ll also be less likely to go and splurge on new outfits for events if they’re more casual and held at homes rather than fancy function spaces.

Reduce Your Spending on Clothing

If you do need to go out for events, such as Christmas balls, office parties, and other occasions, try to limit your spending on clothing. Remember: you will often be seeing different people at the various events you attend, so there’s no need to wear something new at each one. As well, you can easily mix up your outfits and make them look fresh by changing your accessories. Different shoes, handbags, jewelry, scarves, as well as hairdos and makeup choices, can all lead to various looks and mean you don’t have to spend a cent on new clothing.

If you really do want to find something special for an event, give yourself enough time to locate affordable options or great specials. You can purchase reduced-price evening gowns or casual dresses and other outfits online; rent designer clothing for a set period; or even make your own items if you have the skills. In addition, when buying from stores, look for ways to use gift cards or to utilize points so that you don’t have to fork out so much cash.

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