This post was inspired by a Facebook post by an acquaintance who proudly posted that she was completed with her holiday shopping.  I quickly did a double take at the calendar and noted that it was only November 6th, and asked myself, “didn’t Halloween just end?”  I then begrudgingly noticed that I hadn’t even thought about my holiday shopping, other than to take note that retailers had already started decorating, in what appeared to be August!

I don’t know that I would say waiting until November is necessarily waiting until the last minute to start your holiday shopping, but if we don’t start soon enough we may be headed towards that path.  We’ve all done it; waited a bit too long and then left ourselves scrambling and the results, overspending, extra credit card debt and buyer’s remorse.

The holiday’s don’t have to cost you taking a second mortgage on your home, here are some tips to help keep you from overspending this holiday season.

Get Your Budget Together… and Soon

It is always best, to begin with a budget. Avoid going over budget – even just a little – as this can lead to falling into the trap of overspending.

If money’s tight, start thinking about how you’re going to come up with the funds to purchase gifts. Start making plans now and you’ll thank yourself later.

Make a List, Check It Twice

It’s always a good idea to jot down the names of the individuals you’re shopping for. But once you’ve made the list and checked it twice, you need to make cuts to accommodate your budget. Again, your primary concern is only spending what you can afford.

Look for Deals

This is my biggest area for improvement.  I love a good deal and this is where my budget is best served, but also thrown out of the window.  I see items that are such good “deals” that I add people onto my list, buy things I don’t really need and thus starts the trouble.  I advise you to proceed with caution on “Sale” items.

During the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it’s important to look for the best deals on gift items before doing your shopping. There are typically deals happening everywhere, so take some time to sit down with your phone, tablet, or computer to research the best deals for the items you need.

Hint – An area that typically does payoff is to hit the seasonal sale racks in January to stock up on discounted holiday gear for next year.

Use Cash or Debit

Cash is king.  Once the money’s gone, your shopping must immediately come to a halt. And if you even consider whipping out a credit card, chances are you’ll feel guilty about it.

The only time you should use credit cards for holiday shopping is to earn rewards or take advantage of buyer protections, and only if you can afford to pay the balance in full before interest is tacked on.

Get Crafty

They say that it’s the thought that counts, so why not get crafty and create a homemade present for someone you love? If you find you’re not the crafty type, enlist the help of a friend who is, or offer to do a favor.

Home items are great crafty gifts, especially if you know your friends and family member’s preferred decor.

Regift, Regift, Regift

Sounds taboo, right? Well, if you have unused gift cards or unopened gifts lying around, why not pass them along to someone who’ll actually put them to good use? Plus, you’ll soften the blow to your wallet and free up more room for others in your holiday budget. That’s a win-win for everyone!

Keep Track for Next Year

Regardless of what your holiday shopping strategy may be, it is important to reflect on what you spent in total to help you plan better for next year’s festivities. If you find yourself overspending, look to what caused this and how you can fix your budget to help keep you on track next time. Once you have a total that you are happy with, you may want to open an extra savings account to set money aside all year. This will help keep you on track as well as save you from overspending.