The holidays can be expensive and frustrating if you’re battling crowds in a rush for last-minute gifts. Sticking to a budget, shopping early, and giving the gift of your time and expertise can help you save money and enjoy your holidays.

The amount Americans spend on gifts during the holiday season is going up. American Research Group, Inc. reports that Americans planned to spend on average $983 on gifts during the 2017 hol-iday season, up $54 from their spending in 2016. This increase in spending is contributing to a rise in stress. In a recent study, 62% of respondents said their stress level went up during the holiday season and that financial worries was one of the causes.

 

Here are some tips to reduce your spending while still bringing cheer to your friends and loved ones during the holidays:

 

Spend time instead of money

Spending positive time with family and friends may be more valuable than the money you would spend on a gift. A recent survey by Harris Poll showed many Americans would prefer to spend more time with friends and family rather than buying gifts. If it has been some time since you have seen your loved ones, consider making your visit your gift.

Making a budget and checking it twice

Along with the list of people you want to buy presents for, prepare a budget of the total amount you expect to spend on each person. You may also want to factor in the cost of holiday entertain-ing and decorating. Making a budget for the holidays can help you save for the event and avoid running up last-minute charges on high-interest credit cards.

Avoid impulse buys

Once you have your list and your budget, try and stick to them. If you are tempted to buy more gifts than you budgeted for, ask yourself if the additional cost and debt are worth it. Chances are the recipients of the gifts you are buying will care more about the quality than the quantity.

Create homemade gifts

Are you good at baking, painting, or sewing? If you are artistic or crafty, you may be able to make a truly memorable homemade gift that can save you money and make your loved ones feel special. Do you have a skill or expertise that could benefit a family member or friend? Perhaps an older relative could use your assistance with a home repair or a young person could benefit from your help as a tutor or mentor.

Start early

If you start your shopping early, you can benefit from seasonal discounts. Consumer Reports breaks down the best time to buy specific products by month. If you plan ahead for travel, you might be able to get your plane tickets, hotel rooms, and other travel tickets at a cheaper rate. Cheap-Air.com recommends you try and book flights between 121 to 21 days in advance to get the best deals.

Bottom line

Saving for the holidays and sticking to a budget for your holiday spending can help decrease your stress and save you money. What your family and friends want most is to spend quality time with you. You can have a memorable holiday season without breaking the bank.

 

1The information mentioned in this article is for informational purposes only, is intended to provide general guid-ance and does not constitute legal or tax advice. Each person’s situation is unique and may materially differ from the information provided herein. You should seek the advice of a financial professional, tax consultant and/or legal counsel to address your specific needs before any financial or other commitments regarding the issues related to your situation are made. Popular Bank does not make any representations or warranties as to the content contained herein and disclaims any and all liability resulting from any use of or reliance on such content.