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The warm cookie aroma and festive light displays can only mean two things: the holidays are here and so are the extra expenses. Don’t let December break your bottom line. Dash through the holidays with 5 powerful financial tips to help you ‘sleigh’ your seasonal budget and keep your credit bright all year long.

1. Make a List, Check it Twice

Jot down what and who you need to buy for this year. Before you start wheeling and dealing out gifts, make sure you’ve accounted for all of your holiday travel expenses and grocery needs first. Once you have those covered, now we can move on to fun stuff… presents!

Write down each person you plan to buy for and assign a set amount that you are comfortable spending. From there, lookup gifts that fit within that budget range. To make it easy, start online before you head into a store.

Online shops typically allow you to search for items in your specific price range to prevent overspending. Compare prices from a few different vendors and always search for coupons codes and discounts before you make a purchase.

2. Shop Sales

Holiday sales offer some of the biggest product savings of the year. However, if you’re not careful, those discounted temptations can take a toll on your annual budget as well as your credit. Here’s how to master the massive sales.

First, have a plan and bring your list. Second, make a pact to only buy the specific items you’re looking for. This tip will help you prevent those last minute impulse buys on items like stocking stuffers and cute shoes just because they still have your size.

Finally, bring a shopping buddy. Holiday shopping is no joke. The quicker you can get in and out, the better! Assign gift buying duties and cross each item off of your list once purchased.

3. Don’t Fall for Excessive Card Offers

Overspending and overeagerness to cash in on those 15% off store cards can really bite your credit scores in the mistletoe for months or even years! Here’s what you should know to keep your credit bright.

If you shop at a store on a regular basis and if payments are typically not an issue for you, then a store card discount may be beneficial. With that said, signing up for too many over a short period of time or not being responsible with your bills could hurt your credit. Therefore, if you already have several store cards cramping your wallet, it might be best to just say no.

A 15% or 20% discount could end up costing you more than you may have bargained for, especially if you slip up on your payments. To learn more about best credit practices or how you can use ScoreShuttle to increase your scores and help keep your credit bright this year, click below to get started for free!

4. Teamwork Makes the Season Work

All you type-A personalities out there, this one’s for you! Even if you love doing it all and taking care of everything, it’s not so great for your health or your budget.

Instead of taking on every dish and buying an extravagant present for each person on your list, try working as a team to dominate the holidays. Ask your fellow dinner party members to bring a specific dish or drink to your gathering to drastically cut down on cost and prep time.

If you a have a lot of people to buy for this year, try group gifting or a fun present exchange game to minimize cost and maximize on the fun!

5. Consider Meaning over Price

Sure, a $100 gift card to someone’s favorite store is great. But do you know what can be even more impactful and surprisingly far less expensive? A handmade gift from the heart.

Instead of flooding your holiday celebrations with ‘stuff’ why not try words, a song, or a meaningful memory? Get an old, forgotten about family photo and refurbish it with a new frame and new look. Write a letter, a poem, or even a song about someone for a touching tribute to your relationship.

The meaning behind a gift will go much further than any price tag.