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Ways to Stretch Your Budget During the Holidays

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Chase Ultimate Rewards. All opinions are 100% mine.

Do you always find yourself in January staring at a pile of debt left over from Christmas? Do you even wonder if there’s a way to get through the Christmas season without incurring all about debt? These tips should help you to save money and not find yourself with a debt hangover come January 1.

First, decide how much you can spend. Most people make the list of all the people they are buying for  without considering how much money that they have to spend. Set your budget and make a list before heading to the store. Remember to include things like stamps, postage for packages, and boarding for pets if you will be traveling.

Next, grab that list of all the people you want to buy for. Look at each name and decide how much you can spend on each one.  Once each person has a dollar amount, think about what you can buy for that amount. Use this as your shopping list when you finally go to the store. Unfortunately, this could be a painful process because you may have to leave some people off the list to make your budget work.

If you know you can’t be trusted to stick to your budget, consider doing a cash only Christmas. Take that money out of your bank account and once the money is gone, your shopping is over. This should make you more aware of the money you are spending on each gift and keep you from going over budget.

If you plan to use a credit card, think of it as a short term loan. Use a card that can earn you rewards for all of your purchases, but still stay within your budget. You’ll want to pay everything off as soon as possible to avoid interest. One good tip is to track your credit card spending like you would if you were writing a check. Again, it’s about being aware of what you are spending.

You can also take advantage of credit card rewards programs, like the Chase Ultimate Rewards program available to Chase Freedom, Chase Sapphire and Ink from Chase cardholders, to get even more out of your holiday shopping. With Ultimate Rewards, you earn points on every purchase which can be redeemed for travel, gift cards, cash back, merchandise and more! To help stretch your budget this time of year, you can use your rwards points to redeem for gifts or gift cards for people on your holiday shopping list. Chase also offers extra incentives to cardholders with Ultimate Rewards during the holidays.

When your budget runs out, consider gifts in kind — like cookies, meals or time instead of purchased gifts. It will mean more to your neighbor if you agree to exchange babysitting than if you get them something they don’t need anyway. It costs you very little, but that means a lot to the recipient.

Finally, consider taking a vacation in leiu of gifts. Hotels are offering great prices and packages right now. Make sure to shop around to find the best deal, prices can vary depending on where you book. The vacation allows you spend time with your family which is the most important part of the season and the memories will last much longer than the toys and gifts. You may even be able to use your credit card rewards points to get you there!

Hopefully one of these tips will help you to avoid losing your mind and blowing up your wallet this year. Come January, you’ll thank yourself that you planned ahead and didn’t carry over debt to 2015.

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Amy Desrosiers

Wednesday 24th of December 2014

We have practiced many of these tips ourselves to not go into debt this time of year. Love sticking to a budget.

kristin

Tuesday 23rd of December 2014

These are great tips! I think my budget is done but I still have a few more things to get.

Tammilee Tips

Monday 22nd of December 2014

Totally agree on just using cash. You can't spend it if its not in the wallet one of the things I have to do to stay on a budget!

Gabriel Bregg

Monday 22nd of December 2014

We've been trying to encourage everyone to give the kids an "experience" for a gift instead of clothes or toys. Ideally, it would be to take the child out for some one on one time or taking the group of them ice skating or something like that. It hasn't seem to have really caught on yet, I'm sure we will have even more toys in a few days, but we plan to keep pushing it. With three little boys within two years of each other, we already have plenty of toys.

valmg @ Mom Knows It All

Monday 22nd of December 2014

I remember debt well, it's how we ruined our credit many years ago. We're all cash all the time now.

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