Let's face it. The holidays are expensive. The gifts, the parties, the travel, and the unexpected expenses of the season can really put a strain on your budget. We sat down with Amy Butterfield, CFP, CPWA from Plante Moran Wealth Management to talk about some strategies for getting through the holidays without going into the red. 

First, start saving early. The longer you have to save, the easier it is to get to a larger sum. If you need $1,200, it's easier to save 100 dollars a month, rather than finding all $1,200 in December. 

Second, put your holiday savings in a separate bank account than the one you usually use for your everyday expenses. This makes it easier not to accidentally spend it, and gives you a way to track how much you are saving each month. 

Third, be honest about what you can afford, with yourself and the people who might be on your gift list. Telling someone you want to save some money this year by not exchanging gifts is a simple way to cut down on the number of people you are buying gifts for. You can also explain that you will only be able to exchange small gifts rather than expensive ones. This goes for anyone on your list, including children. 

Fourth, make sure your whole family is on the same page when it comes to the budget. If one person is planning to spend a lot more than another, things can get a bit sticky. Having open and honest communication can keep problems from coming up. 

Fifth, Amy recommends maximizing gifts to families. Rather than spending a certain amount of each person in a family, take the opportunity to give a group gift. Things like museum passes or experiences can be wonderful gifts, as well as a chance to cut back on the per person expense. 

Don't forget you can still have a wonderful holiday without breaking the bank.

 Mackenzie is a producer at 13 ON YOUR SIDE. 

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