You don't have to be a Christmas lover *cough, cough... me* to feel nervous about blowing a ton of hard-earned cash on Christmas presents. I personally began to prepare myself mentally around the start of October for the amount of money I could realistically spend around this time. So here I am to help share some of my tips for not panicking halfway through December when your bank account is less than Holly Jolly.

The first thing I focus in on is everyone that has made an impact on my life in the past year. With a low budget, it's not worth it to spend time/money on people who are in and out of your daily life. This can be hard, you don't want to exclude anyone but you have to be realistic. Does your income have room for the one-off gift card purchases? If the answer is Yes then by all means pick up a few Starbucks gift cards and send them on their Merry way. This group can also include family. Sorry Aunt in the middle of rural Ohio but you just didn't make the cut. 

The second thing to think about is how much can you spend on each individual person. Throughout the weeks I weigh the amount between a few factors: 1) Are they a very important person, ie. family, close friends, etc. 2) Can you find them something that is both cost efficient and still a nice purchase. You don't have to wow everyone with how fancy their present is, sometimes you have to go for what is the smartest choice for you. 

Break the people into groups for yourself as well, this helps with the mathematics of what you can spend. For example I have people at work I want to buy gifts for but I only want to spend between $50 to $60 dollars. List them all out in a group and divide by the number of people you have in that group. 

For the Top Notch, A-level people spend a bit more time with their balance. My mom does so much for me I know I should spend the most on her gift. My sister and step-dad, same situation but possibly slightly less. Keep the total in mind while building these budgets. Give yourself some leeway too just in case you find something totally amazing for someone but that's a few dollars off from what you intended to spend. 

Building a spreadsheet is the third step for me in this process. This honestly makes your life sooo much easier when you start to buy the presents. You can make formula's that will take your total and subtract what you've spent. You can also tell if you've spent too much on something and maybe need to rethink the gift - this sounds harsh but it's all relative to you. 

I decided to break it down with these column headers: People, Can Spend, Gift, Price, Store, URL. The people are also broken down into groups like I talked about earlier. Can Spend is your budget with a formula at the bottom that adds your total budget up. Gift is pretty self-explanatory, just name the gift you bought for that person. Price is the cost of the gift you bought, this will add everything up for you to see how you're getting along. Store is sort of unnecessary but I wanted to remember where I saw the gift in case I ordered it online - same goes for URL. 

My last tip is to remember the value of a hand made gift. These are usually way more cost-friendly and also show the time that you were willing to spend on a present for someone. Also remember to have fun with the process and don't let the willowing bank account freak you out. Money comes and goes, that's what life is. Christmas is an amazing time and letting someone know how much you appreciate them is a lovely aspect of the season. 

I hope that these tips can help you with any money-related anxiety this holiday time. Now that it's the middle of November stores are starting to have sales but the crowds aren't absolutely bonkers with people rushing to find gifts. Get a jump-start on shopping and help ease your stress early on so you can sit back and enjoy the festivities around you! 

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