If you’re looking forward to Christmas celebrations, yet dread the bills that follow, it’s time to make a plan. With some organization, creativity and discipline, you can avoid the spending hangover you may have suffered after previous holiday seasons.

Use these five tips to keep Christmas on a budget and enjoy debt-free holidays.

1. Start Planning Now

Don’t let last-minute purchases bust your holiday budget. Start planning right now to give yourself time to find the best prices on what you need.

List all your expected holiday expenses. These include gifts, gift wrap, gift bags, tags and shipping costs where necessary. If it’s time to update some of your seasonal decorating, add the costs of a new Christmas tree, wreaths or garlands. Will you be hosting any holiday meals? Make sure to include your entertaining costs, such as food and alcohol.

Once you have your list, start watching for the best prices on what you need.

 2. Consider Other Ways to Cut Costs

There are many ways to economize over the holiday season:

  • Lower your Christmas dinner expense by hosting a potluck dinner. So, instead of buying all the food on your own, ask each guest to bring a special dish.
  • Consider making gifts instead of buying them. Put your crafting skills to work and knit, crochet, sew or paint something beautiful.
  • Do you prefer to share your culinary skills? Visit Pinterest for creative ways to package cookies, baking mixes and homemade soups.
  • Or simply give the gift of a few hours of your time to help a friend or family member clean, sweep, shovel snow, paint, program remote controls or set up laptops and smartphones.

According to Deloitte, the average consumer will spend about $1,226 during the 2017 holiday season, and that number rises to $2,226 for households with incomes over $100,000.

3. Build Christmas Spending Into Your Budget

The best way to enjoy Christmas on a budget is to plan and save for it all year, so you’ll have money set aside to pay off your holiday credit card bills without going into debt.

This means adding a category called “Christmas spending” to your regular household budget right now. Divide your total estimated holiday expenses by the number of weeks remaining until Christmas to save for this holiday season. The figure you get is how much you’ll need to set aside each week between now and then. The sooner you start budgeting for Christmas, the less you’ll have to save each week.

To budget for next year’s Christmas budget, use this year as an estimate. According to Deloitte, the average consumer will spend about $1,226 during the 2017 holiday season, and that number rises to $2,226 for households with incomes over $100,000.

Divide your total Christmas expenses by 52 weeks or 12 months to get your weekly or monthly budget amount for 2018. For example, if your Christmas budget is $1,226, you’d need to set aside $23.58 per week or $102.17 per month between Christmas 2017 and Christmas 2018 to pay for next year’s holiday expenses.

4. Use Your Discover Card

You can get some help with your Christmas holiday costs by using your Discover card to pay for everyday purchases year-round. This helps you earn valuable Cashback Bonus rewards on every purchase. Your Cashback Bonus never expires, and you can redeem your rewards at any time in a variety of ways*. Deposit your Cashback Bonus to your bank account or redeem a statement credit to offset your spending. Redeem for a gift card to give next Christmas, or pay with your rewards at Amazon.com checkout**.

With a little planning and some creative thinking, you’ll find you can enjoy Christmas on a budget, and may even have fun discovering new ways to save money during the holidays.

*Redeem Any Amount Any Time: We will credit your account with your Cashback Bonus balance if your account is closed or has not been used in 18 months.

**Amazon is not a sponsor of this promotion. Amazon, the Amazon.com logo and the smile logo are trademarks of Amazon or its affiliates

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