Holiday shopping can be exciting, and wrapping a bundle of gifts to share with the ones you love is truly a wonderful experience. Depending on your budget and how many people you shop for each year, holiday spending can also be a source of major stress and even financial strain. Many Americans go into debt each year, trying to shop for and give to their loved ones during the holiday season.

This year, make a budget and stick to it, and free yourself from financial stress and last minute shopping. If you start early, plan a budget designed to suit your individual gift needs and stick to your plan, you can keep your finances in tact and your mind at ease come January 1st.

After all, you don’t have to overspend to show your loved ones how much they matter. Giving should be an enjoyable experience, and with these simple budget holiday shopping tips, we believe it truly will be.

Happy Holidays!

Make a List & Check it Twice
Make a list of everyone you plan to give gifts to, and compare the number of people to the dollar amount in your total budget. Then, assign values to each person’s gift amount. For instance, you might spend more on your mom and dad then you would on your child’s teacher or your mailman. Once you’ve broken out the dollar amounts by individual, you’ll have a clear picture of what and how much you can spend on every gift you buy.

Watch for Sales
Be vigilant about the items you plan to purchase for your loved ones, and watch for discounts and sales from day to day. This does take some time and attention, but it can be worth it in the end. As December comes closer to being over, many retailers will discount goods to make sure they move them out before the end of the year. Watch for those sales, and take advantage of them whenever they arrive.

Start Early
Don’t wait to start shopping and leave yourself in a rush and desperate to find gifts you can afford at the last minute. Begin shopping early and you’ll be better able to stay within your budget and find the deals you want. Starting early also allows you to spread out your spending across pay periods, so that you aren’t dropping one large sum all at once.

When in doubt, do it yourself! If you’re shopping for an affordable desk or furnishing for a family member, consider purchasing one from a thrift store and staining or painting it to give it a brand new look and feel. If you’re crafty, make beautiful works of art by printing out instagram photos and framing them with handmade or simple, store-made frames. You don’t have to spend a lot to show someone you care.

Shop Used & Refurbished
Many electronics retailers will sell refurbished or last year’s electronics at a big discount, making it possible for you to truly afford to buy that new smartphone, earbuds or music player for your loved one.