Budgeting your money during the holidays can be tough. If you only had some budgeting tips for the holidays sooner then you might not break the bank. You have probably already been pinching pennies just to cover the cost of Christmas, much less having to fork out the money that a Christmas dinner entails. This should be a time of year when you can enjoy gathering around a dinner table with your family without worrying about money. You and I alike have all year to do that. So, this year start a plan to finance your holidays in with the rest of the year. You can learn to budget for Christmas just like you budget for everything else in your life. Managing your finances now and in the future will make your holidays a whole lot more enjoyable. Here are some money saving ideas to get you in the habit of getting more out of your money.

The first money saving tip that I can give you is to shop early. I mean really early. I usually start right after Christmas when everything that didn't sell is dirt cheap. You can pick up all kinds of gift boxes for next to nothing. Set aside about thirty bucks for this task and you will be amazed at what you can find. Make sure that you don't forget about all of the holiday trimming like wrapping paper, bows, ribbons, stockings, ornaments, etc. These things add up during the holidays and makes an affordable present expensive. Once you get into the habit of doing this you will find that in the not so distant future you have a huge bounty of gift wrapping supplies.

The next thing that you should do is wait for the winter clearance clothes to go on sale. This will happen when they start putting out the spring clothes in the store. Pick out some things that you know your family members will love. Here is a time saving tip. Get a large storage bin, and as you buy go ahead and wrap your gifts and label them with the name of the person who is going to receive the gift. Put a small number inconspicuously on the tag. Now take a separate piece of paper and write down that number, who the gift was for, and what the gift is, and leave that paper in your storage bin. Add to your list as you add present to the bin. Start shopping around June. I usually check out the clearance section first every time I enter a store. As you get closer to the end of the year, you will have checked a lot of people off of your Christmas list. This concept works really well for buying gifts outside of your immediate family like nieces and nephews, and people at work. It is a painless way to have a huge Christmas.

As you get closer to the holidays start watching for the sales. If there is something that someone in your family wants that you pretty much can guarantee is going to sell out in December, then buy it the first time it goes on sale. If you have children that are requesting something expensive, then space each gift purchase out by month. If you buy one child a gift a month, you will not be overwhelmed by December. Carefully consider ads that say "no interest" for 12 months, because if you haven't paid the balance in full before the 12 months are up, then you owe for that accrued interest. If this happens, then that great deal becomes no deal at all.

Another money saving tip is if you have lots of brothers and sisters with family try doing this this year. Instead of buying gifts for each individual just give them a gift basket. Try to make the gift cool. You could make a basket with a new movie release. Buy a round popcorn tin for around $5.00 at Wal-Mart and make that the centerpiece. You can buy popcorn bowls at the Dollar store really cheap. Put that in the basket with some soda drinks dispersed among the goodies like Juju beads. This way you can get the whole family something that they will enjoy for less than $30.

More budget advice for the holidays deals with keeping the cost of food low. If everyone comes to your house for Christmas dinner, then you know what an expense this can be on top of shopping for Christmas. If you are going to cook a turkey or ham you should buy it right after Thanksgiving when it is on sale. When you buy it purchase a smaller bird than what you had at Thanksgiving. The bird has already made it's début for the year and no one will notice. Ask your guest to bring some kind of a side dish. They will not mind. This gives people a chance to show off their culinary skills. If what they bring is really tasty, then they get all of the bragging rights.

Another budgeting tip for the holidays is to plan your menu in advance and buy foods that are on sale. If you wait until the holidays to purchase your meal prices will be higher than usual. Also, consider purchasing store brands instead of name brands, and buy in bulk instead of several small cans. No one will know the difference. Besides, if you feed your guest lots of vegetables and starches, they will get full quicker. Avoid buying pre-packaged items. These types of food cost more money than making foods from scratch. This may be more time consuming, but in the end it is more economical to do it that way.

Just remember that budgeting money during the holidays or any other time is not being cheap. This is being smart. The whole idea behind Christmas is not what you have spent, but instead, it is about how you feel spiritually and how you feel towards your fellow man. Managing your finances with responsibility shows more about your character than you can fathom. Knowing that when January rolls around you will be at peace makes December seem a whole lot merrier.