Plan for the holidays to reduce financial stress

Holiday time can be a stressful time. This year, follow your own path to better planning for less stress and more enjoyment of the season.

Every year around this time, people begin thinking of the holidays ahead. Their thoughts turn to planning for family get-togethers, special meals and gift giving ideas. For many, these plans also bring stress as they try to figure out how to pay for all of these extras. With a small amount of planning ahead, stress can be reduced and you can still take part in special activities that celebrate those most dear.

Before you begin spending money, make a plan. Sit down and list all the things you need to have for the holidays. Include things like food, cards, stamps and decorations. Assign a realistic approximate cost to each item. Then write up a gift-giving budget. Assign a pre-determined amount to each person on your list. Total your lists and ask yourself if the amount before you is within your budget. If it is, terrific! Go forth with your shopping and stick to your lists. If not, you are in good company; according to a 2012 study conducted by Research Now for Oxygen Media, 47 percent of adults spend more than they can afford. Consider some money-saving alternatives this year:

This year give yourself the gift of planning ahead and make the holiday season brighter because of your efforts.