The holiday season is in full swing and the shopping sprint is on. While this time of year is supposed to be full of joy, everyone knows how stressful it can be paying for presents and holiday fun without breaking the bank. Continue reading to learn more about how you can maintain peace of mind during the holiday season by creating a holiday budget.

Make a budget of your necessary expenses

Before you can begin planning for your holiday expenses, if you do not already have one, create a budget of your fixed expenses for the month. Use a monthly budget tool, to calculate the total cost of your fixed expenses- such as your mortgage or car payment. With the help of a budgeting tool, you will then know how much you have left over to spend on presents and other holiday expenses.

Determine what you need & who you are shopping for

Next, develop a list of all of the holiday-related expenses you will be spending money on. This includes presents, gift wrap, food for holiday parties, gas for traveling, charitable donations, decorations and postage for sending gifts or holiday cards.

Determine everyone you are going to be shopping for including kids, family members, neighbors, friends, and coworkers. Set a maximum price point for each person, and add up the total estimated cost. Estimate the cost of all the other holiday-related expense and add it to the total cost for presents. If that exceeds the amount you have to spend on the holidays, you may need to revise your list and find the areas where you can cut back.

Shop smart

Shopping smart for holiday presents is necessary in order to stay on track with your budget. Research online before you buy and always compare prices between different stores. There are tons of websites and apps that offer great in-store and online coupons for any present you could imagine.

Take advantage of today’s technology with websites like RetailMeNot which offers in-store and online coupons. Another great smart shopping tool is the browser extension Honey, which scans websites for coupon codes and automatically applies the best one to your online order.

Use a low-interest credit card

As much as you have budgeted, you might need help paying for everything during the holiday season. If that’s the case, consider enlisting the help of a low-interest credit card. Using a low-interest credit card is a great way to capitalize on the power of borrowing without risking being unable to pay off your balance. CTFCU offers members low-interest MasterCard credit cards for an APR rate as low as 9.90% and no fees.

Keep track of your spending

Throughout the season, make sure to track everything you spend money on because you may need to adjust your budget throughout the weeks. If you find the perfect gift for someone but it costs more than what you planned for, you’ll want to adjust your budget accordingly in other areas. A detailed log also will also help you plan for your holiday spending next year and it helps you to learn the areas where you can cut back.

Overall, creating and sticking to a budget is not only a great way to save money, but it also helps you maintain peace of mind during the holiday season. If you know you are on track and not spending too much, you will be able to enjoy the holidays. Not to mention, sticking to your budget will set you up for financial success in the new year.

If you’re looking for more ways to make the most of finances during December, check out our online financial education center and our current holiday promotion page.