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'Tis the season – to save.

How to make the most of your holiday budget.

The holidays are fast approaching; get ready for all the merriment – and shopping! Will you brave the crowded stores or shop online from your couch? Whatever you decide, with a little planning and budgeting you can save on stress, money and unnecessary debt. Now that's something to celebrate.

Determine your budget.

Take a look at your budget and see what you can afford. Whether you've been saving all year for holiday shopping, or are just starting, the key is sticking to your budget. This means not using credit cards unless you have budgeted to pay them off in full when the statement arrives. As you budget, you may want to think about next year – and set up a special savings account for holiday shopping. With automatic transfers throughout the year, your money can be waiting for you next season. TD Bank can get you started with one of our Savings accounts.

Make a list – and check it twice.

A list will keep you on track with your budget and help you avoid unnecessary purchases. Make a list of everyone you're buying gifts for and assign a dollar amount. Does your gift list exceed your budget? Go back and revise the dollar amount per person, and consider getting creative (see below).

Do a little homework.

Check online, in stores and ads to find the best price for items on your list. Hit the after-Thanksgiving sales, and be sure to ask about any price matching or return policy. Also take advantage of store's email lists – they often send special sale and coupon info. A lot of websites offer free shipping, so send gifts to out of town family and friends directly.

Get creative.

Thoughtful, unique gifts are always more fun to receive. You'd be surprised at how just a little more thought into what each person would really like will save you money. You can also look online to see what kind of gifts you could make at home. The holidays are really about enjoying each other, so keep in mind that the gift of time may be the best of all.

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This article is based on information available in November 2013. It is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide specific financial, investment, tax, legal, accounting, or other advice and should not be acted or relied upon without the advice of a professional advisor. A professional advisor will recommend action based on your personal circumstances and the most recent information available.

Holiday hosting on a budget.
Holiday parties are also a big part of the season, so whether you're hosting your entire family or just a few friends, here are some tips for entertaining on a budget:

  • The invite.
    Create an invite through your social network or design an e-card to send by e-mail. Want a more personal touch? Invite your friends by phone.
  • The decorations.
    Lighting is an inexpensive way to make a big impact: stock up on strands of white and multi-color lights for entrances and serving stations. Use candles and low lighting everywhere else to set a festive mood.
  • The food and drink.
    Search online for budget-friendly recipes or consider having your party well before or after dinner, so you can serve appetizers or desserts instead of a full meal. For beverages, you can serve one custom or theme drink, and suggest that guests bring their favorite to share.
  • The gifts.
    Most gift swaps have dollar limits assigned so you can plan accordingly. If you don't know who you're buying for, a good rule is to buy something you'd be happy to take home.