UNITED STATES—The Christmas holiday is indeed upon us, and for many Americans were are actively, I mean actively checking our list and making multiple trips to the mall to pick up gifts for those on our lists. In the past, I have ALWAYS been one who has attempted to get a gift for nearly everyone I interact with on a weekly basis, however, in doing so I have found myself in situations where I’ve spent far too much money on gifts and placed myself in a bit of a bind.

That is something that I believe is quite important. We get so caught up in the joy of the holidays that we go way overboard and I mean so far overboard that we don’t take a second to realize what we are spending, why we are spending it and who we are spending it for. Christmas is all about giving, but at the same time, it is no requirement for one to go into debt to ensure they purchase a gift for every single person in their family. Look, if your budget doesn’t allow it, that’s fine. Do not stress about it; get gifts for those who you are able to purchase gifts for.

I’m actually a firm believer Christmas is for kids, so if you have nieces and nephews under the age of 18, aim to purchase them gifts if they are on your list, and not their parents. I think their parents aka your siblings will appreciate the fact that you are getting their children gifts. This is perhaps the tricky element of all things: make a list and stick to it. Now, I’m going to be a bit specific here, it’s not enough to just put names on a list; you should put a price tag next to that name and perhaps a specific item that you would like to get them.

Be careful, you should be well aware that it’s wise to not extend the budget to gargantuan heights. Some of you might be asking, exactly what does that mean? It means if you’ve gotten them one gift that you are already satisfied with, there is no need in buying a third, fourth or even a fifth. One gift is enough people, don’t feel the need to go above and beyond to ‘impress’ when your wallet can’t afford it. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been one to do this time and time again, but in 2017, not so much. I have a budget, and I’m sticking to that budget no matter what.

The worse feeling is getting those credit card statements and bank statements and then wondering precisely what led to such high bills or low funds, you are baffled. It is so easy to swipe that plastic than it is to pay with cash, but heed my advice: cash is your best friend! Respect it, use it and never doubt it. If you have credit cards that are already high with minimum monthly payments and that interest is never-ending, it is wise to put those cards away to prevent any TEMPTATION that can get you in further trouble.

I am a firm believer that Christmas is always about the gift of giving. We hear the phrase, “It’s the thought that counts.” That is very important, it is something more Americans should heed and not ignore. Sometimes you can purchase the most expensive items and the person who receives the gift is not happy. What happens to you? You’re left upset, baffled, stressed and broke, and for what? That’s a question you have to answer.