The holidays can be rough on anyone’s budget, but it’s especially difficult for those who are attempting to get out of debt. No one should still be paying for Christmas gifts come August, so how does one check everyone off their list without going further into debt?

Here are a few tricks to help you cut corners this holiday season:

Shop Early

Shopping early will allow you to chip away at your gift list. This will lessen overwhelm and financial strain come December. Not quite sure what your 7 year-old will want come Christmas, then save those purchases for later. Purchasing host/hostess gifts early is an easy way to get ahead of holiday financial squeeze.

Another easy fix is to purchase wrapping paper and decorations directly after the holiday. You will save a significant amount, plus be ready for next year.

Set a Budget

One of the simplest ways to get into financial trouble, is ignoring your budget constraints. Setting and sticking to your proposed budget will allow for you stay out of debt. Unsure how to even set a holiday budget?

  1. Make a list: write down everyone you hope to give a gift, include everyone, even the mailman, anyone and everyone you are planning on giving something to.
  2. How much are you willing to spend, or better how much can you save between now and the holidays, and how much of that you’d like to go towards gifts.
  3. Prioritize your gift recipient list, who is most important from your child to your co-worker. Label each name with either, paid gift, DIY gift/card, no gift. 
  4. Assign a budget to each person on your list, for example: Uncle Fred= $20 and your niece Sarah=$30. Add it up and make sure your total amount does not exceed your overall set budget.

But remember, a budget is only good if you stick to it.

Shop Online

Shopping online is a great way to price compare, allowing you to truly get the best price. Don’t purchase anything online without trying to find a discount code first. Simply google a discount code for your chosen product. Shopping online also lets you plan ahead, already know your purchasing a game console for your kids? Research price points and wait for online Black Friday deals or Cyber Monday discounts.

Another deal saver is to follow your favorite retailers on Facebook and Twitter. Several companies offer discounts exclusively to their Twitter followers and Facebook friends. A simple social media search will provide you with current discount codes and sales.

Use Gift Cards

You can purchase discounted gift cards for hundreds of online/offline retailers including Target, BestBuy, and others. Discounts are typically 5-30% off retail. Checkout giftscards.com for gift card options.

Give Group Gifts

More often than not, other people are in the same financial boat. Offer to go in on group gifts, or partake in a white elephant gift swap with extended family or a group of girlfriends. In fact a gift swap not only saves your budget, but it is a great holiday party activity.