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Paycheck Chronicles

Avoid Holiday Cash Chaos

The holidays are coming, and with them come lots of expenses.  I'm sure we're not the only family that feels the holiday cash crunch.  Thankfully, much holiday money stress can be eliminated with a couple of tactics.

Prioritize

There are thousands of ways to spend money around Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and other holidays.  Most of us don't have the budget for everything.  What's important to you?  At my house, I'm more focused on family traditions and less focused on gifts.  I've basically abandoned cards.  (I might just make that official this year.)  I like decorating, but try to keep it simple.

Plan

There are many free holiday planners available online, and there's surely one to fit your style.  It may seem weird to plan your whole holiday season just to focus on your budget, but the two go hand-in-hand.  Often, overspending comes from not having a plan, whether it be a grocery list, a budget, or a hostess gift for a last-minute invitation.  Here are some places to look for holiday planners:

FlyLady's Holiday Control Journal

Living Well, Spending Less Holiday Planner

Organized Home's Holiday Printables

In addition, there are many websites with daily activities that you need to do to make the holidays less stressful.   By looking at the holidays as a whole, you can easily see where the money is going to be spent, and figure out where and how to cut back.

Proceed with Caution

Once you've made a plan, and know that you can afford it, stick with it.  It is so easy to slip just "one more present" into the shopping cart, or convince yourself that a new dress is better than the old one.  Keeping your eyes on the overall plan will make it easier to resist temptation (and sales!)

There's no way around the fact that the holidays can be expensive.  It is up to you to take charge and control those expenses, focusing on the things that are important to your family and forgetting about the rest.  The reward will be a peaceful New Year with no lingering bills or holiday financial hangovers.  So worth it!

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