Christmas is an expensive time of year, and regardless of how much you earn- most families have to be frugal in some way or another. There’s lots to buy and lots to organize; it’s no wonder it’s ranked as the most expensive and stressful time of the year.

But Christmas really is a lot of fun so it’s all worth it; just follow the tips below to stop yourself from overspending and getting into trouble financially.

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Search for Bargains

There are plenty of ways you can save money over Christmas if you shop smart. Wrapping paper, cards, bows, tape, gift tags and more can all be bought cheaply in places like grocery stores, dollar stores and eBay.

Forget going for luxury here, you can still make your gifts look gorgeous with less expensive wrapping and it’s only ever going to be torn off and thrown away anyway.

You can find stocking fillers and token gifts in the same kinds of places. Sometimes you need an inexpensive gift for a colleague, neighbor, teacher or someone else that you’re not extremely close to. An inexpensive box of chocolates from somewhere like this would do the trick.

You can buy everything from dress jewelry to novelties to fluffy socks, bath products and so much more on eBay for just a few dollars.

Just be sure to check the shipping times; Christmas is just a few weeks away and lots of sellers are across the world in Hong Kong. You may have to filter results to just show sellers in your country.

DIY

When it comes to gift giving it really is the thought that counts, so if you’re short on cash why not make some presents instead? You can make big batches of things like cookies and cupcakes, and you can purchase boxes or jars to display them in relatively cheaply.

You can make things like DIY beauty products– soaps, sugar scrubs and more. Not only will you be giving something completely unique but it’s made with love too. If you have a selection of less expensive items which you want to look more impressive, a good option is to bundle them together in a basket.

Wrap with cellophane and top with a bow and you have a gorgeous custom gift which looks impressive but didn’t cost you much.

It could be based on a theme, for example a ‘pamper hamper’ could contain some bath products, a candle, some cosy socks and some chocolates. You could get these things from dollar stores!

You could save a fortune and still get the joy of handing someone a present; they will know you’ve put the effort in too which is far more special than the amount of money paid.

Use Coupons

Why pay full price when you don’t have to? Instead of forking out the full price, it’s always worth having a check online sites like www.DontPayFull.com have tons of vouchers for all different stores so you could save yourself some serious cash.

Another option would be to use a cashback website like Ebates. You get a percentage back on whatever you buy, while it does take a few weeks for them to pay out come January you could have a nice chunk of money transferred to your bank account.

This could be used towards your January bills, not to be sniffed at in a month when things are tight for most people. You could check out newspapers, magazines and online forums for vouchers and coupons too.

If you’ve got your finger on the checkout button, have a quick browse first and make sure you can’t save yourself some money with a code.

Budget Carefully

At a time of year that’s all about spending and indulgence, it’s so easy to blow the budget. But the last thing you want to do is fall behind on bills or run up credit cards- you’d set yourself up to a bad start in 2018.

Ideally you will have been saving towards Christmas for the last few months, that way you have a chunk of money to make things easier. If you have to, dip into your general savings- but avoid missing payments for things or using credit cards and loans. Y

our best bet is to create a budget that works. Categories could be things like presents, food, decorations, cards, wrap and stamps, travel and anything else you have to spend money on over the festive period.

Work out exactly what you can afford to spend, and then how much each category should be allocated. That way it doesn’t get to mid December and you realize you’re all out of money and still have important things to buy.

Don’t Overspend on Food

Christmas is of course all about the food. Getting family together and enjoying delicious meals, indulging and treating ourselves is the festive season in a nutshell. But you don’t have to go overboard.

If you’re throwing a Christmas party, go pot luck style and ask everyone to bring a dish or dessert. That way you get a nice mixture of things and it costs you a lot less.

Instead of spending lots of money on fancy cakes and chocolate, have a look on Pinterest for recipes and make your own. It can work out far cheaper and gives you something fun to do over the festive weeks while you’re off work.

Another tip is to work out the amount of food you will need based on the parties, days and events you had planned and buy the right amount.

Don’t just overbuy and fill your cupboards, they’ll be jam packed with treats through to January- no good if you plan on eating healthily in the new year!

Save on Decorations

Another big expense at Christmas is decorations. But it doesn’t need to be if you look after what you have and put everything away carefully after the festive season they should last you for years to come.

You can get very nice, inexpensive bits and pieces again from dollar stores and grocery stores, you could make your own or look in thrift stores for second hand bits and pieces.

You might need to buy new tree lights every few years, but aside from that you should keep your spending on decorations right down and use what you have.

Earn Some Extra Cash

Finally, earning a little bit of extra income can go a long way during this time of year. You could take on an extra shift at work, or sign up for a Christmas job a couple of days a week. Companies often need extra hands over the festive period so it shouldn’t be difficult.

You could sign up to a freelancing site and write some articles for money. Either way, it’s an option for generating a little extra cash to put towards Christmas.

If you don’t want to do any more work, how about selling what you no longer need? With people searching for gifts and spending a lot of money, it’s the perfect time to do so.

List items on ebay or on Facebook groups and sell them off to raise some extra money. It’s a chance to have a declutter too, which is handy when new items will be coming into the home in the form of gifts.

How will you be making sure you don’t overspend this Christmas, and ensure your finances are kept in check? Will you be following any of the above tips to make sure you have fun now without taking debt or money issues into the new year?