Ahh the holidays, we get to spend extra time with family and friends, eat lots of amazing food, give and receive gifts galore and everyone just seems so much merrier right? For the most part, yes they are, that is until they see their bank accounts put them in time out for spending too much money on the all so joyus gift giving madness. The idea is that if you receive a gift from someone you must absolutely get them something of the equivalent in return because that is the \u201cright\u201d thing to do...well I mean, yes it is the nice thing to do, but it is not a requirement. If someone gives you a gift, it\u2019s because they wanted to so they did, however they should not expect one in return and if they do then they suck, haha. You get what I am saying though right? Even if you feel obligated to get them something in return you don\u2019t need to price match or anything like that. Honestly, it's the thought that counts not the monetary value of the gift that matters. \n\n\n\nSorry about that rant...you are here to get some help on saving some moolah during the holidays, not to hear me rant. \n\n\n\nSo how do you save money AND get everyone you want a gift AND cover the cost of either entertaining guests or attending a holiday party? \n\n\n\nThe very first thing you want to do is PLAN IT OUT, to the very best of your ability, every single gift, dinner, celebration, whatever is an expense, plan it. This way you have a general idea of what you are going to be expected to spend. I like to go off of the previous years spending and see where I can move things around. Granted you can\u2019t plan that last minute family drop in or anything like that but having a general plan helps out quite a bit if that kinda thing does occur. So get to planning, like now. \n\n\n\nNext we are moving on to gift planning. The way we do it so that we don\u2019t go broke over the entire holiday season is we set aside a certain amount every month, this is a non option savings. Meaning it happens no matter what is going on. It doesn\u2019t need to be much, could be $25-$50 a month could be more but make a minimum requirement for yourself. Then when Black Friday rolls around and you\u2019re ready to hit the stores like a kid in a candy store you are good and you don\u2019t have to worry as much about FOMO. Or if you are like me you start your shopping as soon as you find something that shouts \u201cthis would be great for so and so'' the money is there and you don\u2019t have to worry. I actually prefer to shop before Black Friday because it\u2019s just not my thing. Did it once and will never again! I will be doing a video on this shortly too. Most of the time the deals are just not as good, unless you are going for big ticket items like TV\u2019s and stuff then it\u2019s not worth it. I\u2019d rather be home with my family decorating for Christmas and eating leftovers than running like a madwoman trying to catch a deal on something I don\u2019t need. Also as a side note...the better deals are online anyway! So save all year long and you won\u2019t stress as much, #1. \n\n\n\nNow for the kiddos, gift giving is a MUST for them in my books. For both sides of the spectrum they need to understand the meaning behind the season so that they understand the reasoning as to why they are getting gifts. It is not just some random time of year that they get spoiled. There is meaning and they need to know what that is. So what do you get them, how much should you spend on them and how do you delegate between multiple children on a budget?\n\n\n\nWhat to get?! They want so much, every commercial they see is \u201cI want that\u201d every store they walk into \u201coohhhhh can I have that for Christmas\u201d and so on. It is so much and can get REALLY overwhelming. So how do we figure out what they really want? Seriously, the best approach I have found is to ask them everyday what they want and track it. SOunds nuts but being completely real, they will revert to the item that sits in there tiny minds the most and THAT will be their main item, then you just add on smaller things from there. Eventually your list will be completed and they will get exactly what they want! Less stress on both parties. How much to spend? Well this really does depend on your budget. I would say roughly $150-$300 per kid is realistic. If you have one child I\u2019d stick to about the same unless they have an item they want that\u2019s higher value like a laptop or phone, then it needs adjusted obviously. ***AVOID telling the younger ones that Santa brought them a big ticket item, this creates quite a large issue when other kids that are less fortunate get a cheaper item. It makes them feel as if they weren\u2019t good enough to receive the same as everyone else from Santa, who is a neutral party. How to delegate gifts between multiple kiddos...this one is tough. Especially if you have some in totally different age ranges like myself. Mine are five years apart, that\u2019s five years difference in technology, learning, clothing and more. So how do you explain to your oldest that they can\u2019t have that high tech watch or phone they wanted if they want anything else? Well you don\u2019t, that\u2019s how. I am playing on this one this year actually. My oldest wants a smart watch and I want to get him one so I am. He is also getting a few smaller and less expensive items that I have found on sale throughout the year so that I could get him the watch without stressing over how to explain that if thats what he wants that is all he gets. He still believes in Santa so we have to accomodate Santa gifts too. So we are still sticking to our $300\/kid budget and including his big ticket item! Again a win on both ends. As far as the younger one, she wants Barbies and babydoll clothing so she is super easy, for now that is. Basically the advice I am giving here is keep it simple, don\u2019t overthink it and try to decipher what they want, they will 100% tell you what they really want if you just make them take the time to sit and think about it. \n\n\n\nThe holidays, regardless of what you are celebrating can be stressful, if you let them. They can be extremely overwhelming and cause you to become a Grinch or Scrooge, if you let them. The reality of it all is that they, just like every other day in your life are made up of what YOU make them. You can choose to let your financial status deter you away from having a fantastic holiday season or you can embrace it and use it as a motivator to get creative and think more logically on how you spend throughout the year so that you can avoid becoming a Grinch. If you do find yourself in a situation where life has thrown you a massive pile of lemons don\u2019t ever be proud to reach out and ask for help. It is available, there are many options out there, tons of societies and organizations that are there for that specific reason. I know that if I was in a situation like that I would choose my children having a holiday season over holding my pride high. Their joy is worth so much more than pride. \n\n\n\nSo this year lets make it a priority to be more caring, kind and helpful. You never know what someone is going through and you have no idea what even just the smallest gestures may do. Your simple smile could save a life, your $.25 donation could be the icing on the cake for a child that just needed the tax for that special gift he wanted to buy his little sister or that grocery purchase for the person in front of you could save their entire holiday season. \n\n\n\nSmile, be merry, be bright and care. DON\u2019T be a Grinch.