3 Easy Ways to Cut Christmas Expenses

Breaking news: Christmas is in two weeks. Oh no! Is it really on December 25 this year?

I’m kidding, of course. Mostly.

In reality, we all know that Christmas comes at the same time every year, but we carry on throughout the year like we’re oblivious to the always-approaching holiday season.

If you’re one of the many people who “forgot” about Christmas, don’t beat yourself up too much. Just use this opportunity to make a plan for the remaining time you have between now and Santa’s appearance.

If you need a little push in the right direction, I’ve got you covered. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for holiday shopping.

1. Make a budget.

This seems so simple, but it’s so very important. Without a budget, it’s easy to hop around from shop to shop at the mall, spending $10 here and $20 there. Before you know it, you’ve spent a few hundred dollars, and you haven’t even bought a present for your husband yet!

With the budget, you’re creating a plan for your money before you spend it. So when it comes to Christmas shopping, you’ll simply decide the total amount of money you want to spend (keeping in mind your other expenses) and then what percentage you’ll spend on each person. Related: How to Shop for Christmas on a Tight Budget.

2. Remember, it’s not about you!

As tempting as it is to buy a little something for yourself in the middle of all this Christmas shopping, remember that the holiday season is about giving! Don’t dent your budget by purchasing the designer purse that you’ve been eying all year. If you really want that, ask your husband, your boyfriend, or another family member to consider buying it for you. Related: Leave Your Emotions Out of Christmas Shopping.

3. Be careful with the sales.

Just because a dress is on sale, that doesn’t mean you have to buy it. Should you look for good deals? Absolutely. Should you pay attention to discounts? Of course. But you don’t need to stretch your budget just because something is “on sale.” Use sales to your advantage, but don’t let Christmas sales turn into a reason to justify overspending and using credit cards. You’ll regret it in January. Related: 3 Myths About Owning a Credit Card.

So, to recap: If you want to make it through the Christmas season without trashing your bank account and adding stress to your life, follow these simple steps. Budget your spending, don’t buy stuff for yourself, and be wary of spending too much just because something has “SALE!” written across it.

Have fun with your shopping! And, most importantly, make these steps a part of your everyday life—not just something you do at Christmas. What if you could have all your shopping for next Christmas done in August? How incredible would that feel—not to have to worry about the packed malls, delayed shipping, and holiday stress?

If you’re budgeting all year and keeping your eye on good deals for gifts (that someone actually needs), you’ll save a lot of money in the long run. Then, you won’t find yourself waking up from your post-Thanksgiving nap and realizing that Christmas has been moved to December 25 this year.

If you’re a last-minute shopper and you need to make a budget, go to mychristmasbudget.com and create one  now!