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Take the financial stress out of holidays

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Wise approach: Bestselling author Rachel Cruze shares tips for avoiding financial stress during the holiday season (Photograph supplied)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, which means holiday shopping is under way! If you’re a spender like me, your head is spinning with all the upcoming festivities. The holidays are such a magical time of year, but I think we can all agree they’re not-so-magical for our wallets.

It’s easy to lose sight of what matters during this special season and feel pressured to overspend. But it is possible to enjoy the holidays and not let them turn into a debt hangover in January. Here are a few ways you can save this holiday season and still enjoy your time:

Make a Christmas budget

Overspending is easy to do when you don’t make a plan for your money. We know Christmas is on December 25 every year. Your Christmas will be less stressful — and more festive — if you create a budget ahead of time and plan for your purchases. I like using the EveryDollar app. You can list out all your Christmas expenses, including the gifts you want to buy for people, and track your budget on the go.

Set expectations early with your kids

Discontentment happens when kids expect the whole toy store under the tree and only receive three or four gifts. Make sure their expectations are realistic long before Christmas morning. If a new bike’s not in the budget, let them know.

Make a list and check it twice

Who doesn’t love giving gifts to their loved ones? It’s so much fun, but those expenses can add up. Make a list of everyone you want to buy for and assign a dollar amount to each person. And stick to it! If you can’t afford to buy a gift for someone, there are lots of free holiday activities to enjoy together. Spend some quality time with them instead. I promise you, they will appreciate that just as much, if not more!

Remember what the holidays are about

There is a lot of pressure around the holidays. But don’t lose sight of what really matters this season, and that is spending time with the people you love. Ten years from now it won’t matter who got what gift or what party you went to. What will matter most are the memories you create with the people closest to you.

I promise you, the holiday season will be much less stressful if you figure out how much you have to spend and set some boundaries! Come spring, when you start planning that family vacation, you’ll be thankful you aren’t still paying off Christmas debt. And if you want your holidays to be truly merry, focus on spending time with family and less on stuff.

As a number one New York Times bestselling author and host of The Rachel Cruze Show, Rachel helps people learn the proper ways to handle money and stay out of debt. She’s authored three bestselling books, including Love Your Life, Not Theirs and Smart Money Smart Kids, which she co-wrote with her father, Dave Ramsey. You can follow Cruze on Twitter and Instagram at @RachelCruze and online at rachelcruze.com, youtube.com/rachelcruze or facebook.com/rachelramseycruze.

Wise approach: Bestselling author Rachel Cruze shares tips for avoiding financial stress during the holiday season (Photograph supplied)