You know Christmas season is around the corner when you start hearing christmas songs at the mall and the lights display are starting to get grander. But while Christmas is a season of giving, you can still get into the spirit of Christmas without going into debt.  If you have read and followed the article on setting your annual budget, then you shouldn’t have too much of a problem as a chunk of your annual budget should now account for holiday presents.

But whether or not you were able to set a budget for the holidays, it’s still wise to plan and review your finances for upcoming festive season. The objective is to maximize our enjoyment and still come out of it financially sound and secure.  First off, make a list and check it twice. List down everyone that you would want to shower with your generosity. That would include (but is not limited to) your family, relatives, friends, your help, charities you give to, monito/monita, godchildren, manong guard, etc.

Beside their names write down the gift you want to give them, then beside it write down an estimate of how much it will cost. When you’re done calculate the total you will be spending on the presents and determine if you can afford it. If you can’t, then go over your list another time, be creative and try to think of gifts that would not cost you as much but would mean just as much.

There are many ways to exercise the spirit of giving without going broke. Here are some suggestions:

1. Watch out for Sales and Bazaars. It’s always better to start your shopping early. This way, you have more chances of finding and getting that great item on sale vs when everyone else is doing their shopping with you.

2. Pinoys love to eat. I’m sure your friends will appreciate your homemade treats like cookies or leche flan. I personally love chewy twinkies/crinkles. They won’t cost you as much since instead of paying for it with money you pay for it with your efforts.

3. Give your time instead of presents. If you don’t have enough money left for that charity/cause you’ve been supporting, you can always give your time by finding out how you can help out. Reserve one day for attending that tree planting activity, or share your talents and entertain the orphans or the senior citizens. It will probably be more meaningful than just sending a check. If you don’t have money, then you can always give your time. Besides, time is gold.

4. Use recycled paper to wrap your presents. Wrapping paper alone can cost you. I usually use newspapers or magazine pages and just stick on a nice little ribbon. If you wrap it with care, by folding all the edges neatly, then it would look nice whatever kind of paper you use.

5. Send out those old unused christmas cards you have just lying around gathering dust. You can send your friends abroad warm fuzzies and let them know that they’re in your thoughts without having to spend that much. Be sure to send those cards early though so they arrive on time.

6. For the more disciplined, you can take advantage of those credit card points by charging your Christmas purchases on your card. Just make sure that the budget you set for those presents go directly into paying that credit card bill, otherwise you’ll be left with unwanted interest payments.

With that, let me be the first to greet you a Happy Holidays! Cheers to financial literacy and freedom!

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