With the holidays upon us, it’s easy to get caught with overspending on gifts, food and decor. Who doesn’t like a good party?

But you’re a wise money woman.

You’re getting your financial ish together, and you don’t have time to blow all your hard work in a matter of days just because it’s the holidays.

So to help you stay on track, I’ve written down five-holiday mistakes to avoid so you can enjoy the holidays and keep your finances intact.

1. Shopping without a budget or list.

While it’s nice to give nice gifts to your family and friends, it can put a strain on your finances if you overspend.

The best way to avoid that is to set a budget and create a list of all the folks you want to give gifts to – and stick to it.

Going shopping and taking suggestions from store employees or picking up items as you see them is a recipe for busting your budget. Decide what you are going to get your friends and family and research the best prices BEFORE you head in the store.

And don’t confuse buying gifts with love. You don’t have to buy your kids or spouse everything on their list to show you love them.

2. Volunteering for everything.

It’s the season of giving and you want to help. But don’t overextend yourself.

That cookie exchange, Christmas party at your house, and potluck at work, etc. can add significant costs to your budget. And make it much more likely for you to turn into the grinch.

After all, feeding people ‘ain’t cheap.

So ask your loved ones to share in the responsibilities.

Have each person bring a dish, or have everyone chip in some funds into a dinner jar. This will ease the stress on you, not to mention your wallet.

3. Missing the deals.

I get it. You’re busy, especially this time of year, but for the love of all things holy, don’t wait till the last minute to get your holiday shopping done.

All throughout the season stores have discounts, coupons, and sales on items. But the closer you get to the holiday, the more likely you are to miss out on some of the great deals and supplies will be limited.

4. Relying on credit cards.

I love using credit cards for points as much as the next person, but when it comes to gift buying they can be dangerous. It’s tempting to go overboard when using credit cards because you aren’t using ‘real’ money. And I’m much more likely to forget to pay the bill during the hustle and bustle of the season.

You might think “what’s an extra $10 over the budget? I can make it up on the next payday.” but before you know it you’ve overspent and Macys dings your credit report because you forget to make the payment.

Take it from me, if you can’t afford to buy it now, don’t create a bill for yourself later. Have the money set aside for your gifts before you go shopping. And if you want to use your credit cards, then use them for points and schedule to pay them off with the savings as soon as the bill comes due.

Do you really want to be paying off your Christmas presents when Valentine’s day comes around?

5. Trying to out give the Joneses.

Don’t make the holidays a competition about who can wear the most expensive clothes, buy the flashiest gifts or host the fanciest dinner. And definitely don’t make it about buying a better gift in return to the gift you received.

No one wants to look like the chump that gives cheap gifts, but spending hundreds of dollars, going into debt to get the ‘perfect’ gift and then grumbling about it for the next 3 months is pretty dumb.

Instead, make the holidays about creating lasting memories with your family and friends and enjoying the time with others.

There’s nothing wrong with giving a heartfelt thank you for an unexpected gift received. Nor is it out of order to give a thoughtful gift, rather than the most expensive gift.

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