For our family the holidays are the most expensive time of the year. It is not just the unavoidable cost of flights, which rise exponentially every year, or the limitless entertaining and party attending we have to do. Our main expense, like most people's, is the cost of presents.

This is THE year I Will Save Money on Presents!As our extended family grows, so to does the list of people to buy presents for. It has almost gotten to the point where I would like to ask everyone to stop getting married and having babies - I can't keep up!

As I can not do that, I have made 5 rules for myself this year, which I am determined to stick to and that I will share with you.

1. I will NOT under any circumstance make impulse buys. Too often have I gone to a shopping mall and bought presents without really thinking because so-and-so will 'just love this.' I often forget about these impulse buys and double buy for people. It also pushes me further and further over my budget. Which brings me nicely to my next point...

2. I am taking only cash with me to any store. Charging everything to my credit card allows me to avoid looking at the prices of everything now, but it gives me a horrible surprise come mid-January. By leaving my credit card at home this year, I'm making sure that the only surprises for me this year are under the Christmas tree!

3. I am going to go to the store with a list. Between now and the beginning of my Christmas shopping, I will brainstorm, research, and make a list of presents that I am going to buy. I can find the best deal online and in stores beforehand so I will not make any excessively priced purchases (this will also help me with point #1!).

4. This year, I am going to suggest the idea of a 'secret Santa' to my friends and family. As most the country is in the same boat we are, everyone should understand. Put everyone's name in a hat and whoever's name you pull out of the hat is who you will buy a present for. This also means you can focus on buying that person a more special and meaningful present. Another idea is to just buy your spouse and your children presents; if you let everyone else know in advance, no one's feeling will be hurt.

5. This one sadly cannot apply to me as I am in no way crafty, but if you are, think of gifts you could make. Crocheting, knitting, sewing, and needlepoint are all skills I wish I possessed, because most of us appreciate handmade and original gifts. The extent of my craft skills may find me customizing clothing or makeup bags for my friends!

As with all gifts, it is the thought put into them that makes them special. Gifts that are heartfelt and personal always mean more than some trinket bought without care. In this economy, maybe we can realize the real meaning of the holidays, spending precious time with our loved ones.

Related articles:

This Year, Go Homemade

The Bliss of Forethought for Holiday Shopping

The Debt Diva's Top 10 Holiday Shopping Tips

Vienna Nowell

Vienna currently resides in New York City, but is originally from London. She is a contributing writer under Married & Starting Out. She and her husband are recently married and they are contemplating taking the big step of buying their first home.  Still working their way through the processes of buying an apartment, she and her husband are learning as they go.  Vienna also writes a food blog, http://www.tinytestkitchen.com/, and is a freelance writer, chef and food stylist.  She is looking forward to sharing her experiences and any tips she picks up along the way during their house buying endeavor. Compensated CareOne Blogger

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