It is already "that time of year" again. Holiday Season! It is so easy to get caught up in the commotion, the retail sales, and requests from family and friends, that we often overextend ourselves financially. It is important to set boundaries for yourself to get through the holidays and not bury yourself into more debt than you already have. The holidays are not about over indulging in gifts and/or shopping. So, I have thought of five ways to focus on what’s important, like spending time with our loved ones, that will also save money.

1. Cook Meals – Food has always been an excellent way to bring people together. We all have to eat anyway, so having a dinner or even offering to take a dish to a dinner is a good way to stay within your budget. Also, hosting a dinner could be a gift to multiple people. I promise if someone offers me food for a gift, I will be all smiles and hugs!

2. Sentimental Gifts – Giving something small but from the heart oftentimes goes a lot further than getting a large gift. Being able to find a heartfelt card, writing a letter, or maybe a poem and putting it in a nice frame could go a long way. We go too many days without expressing ourselves to our loved ones. What better time to be lovey-dovey than the holidays?

3. Gift Exchange  This one is popular. If you have a large family, group of friends, or even co-workers who are in the holiday spirit, it is a lot easier to buy a gift for one person than for every person in the group. Suggest pulling names and setting a gift budget amount that works for everyone. This will save a lot of money and give everyone a reason to come together for the gift exchanges. I do this with my friends! Sometimes it is hard for everyone to get together, so one friend organizes it through Drawnames. All the names and emails are entered, and the site sends each of us the name of the person we will be shopping for that year. Super easy. We have done this for the past 3 years.

4. Family Game Night – Instead of exchanging gifts, the loved ones can opt for a game night. Everyone can buy/bring their favorite game to play together. This will make for great memories that will outlast any gift.

5. Pick a Cause – Get the group together and select a cause to help. It is the perfect time of year to give back. Having the opportunity to volunteer and help those less fortunate will be one of the best gifts you can give — YOUR TIME.

"You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you."  — John Bunyan

May your holiday be filled with love and happiness and stays within your budget!