This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Navy Federal Credit Union for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

The holiday season is upon us and during this most wonderful time of the year it brings us extra time with our families to celebrate our holiday traditions. The holidays should bring us joy, but for many who aren’t prepared, it also brings stress, debt, and guilt. Set yourself up for holiday success this year by making a holiday budget and a plan – and sticking to it!

Six Tips to Keep Your Holiday Military Budget on Track and Stress Less this Season

Budget for more than just gifts

When you think about holiday spending, remember, it’s more than just the gifts.  Think holiday food, parties, travel, decorations, and even holiday charitable giving. Holiday spending can really start to add up once you factor in all these extra expenses that come along with the holidays. Sit down and create a holiday budget of everything you think you’ll need this season.  If you’re totally lost as to how to create a budget, check out Navy Federal Credit Union’s free budget template and create your own customizable holiday budget.

Make a list, check it twice

Who you want to give to and who you can afford to give gifts to are two very different lists. Make a list of the people you plan to give gifts to this season. Next, check-in with your holiday budget to see if you have enough funds for all the people on your list. When you are holiday shopping, stick to shopping for just those who are on your list. Resist the temptation to pick up little gifts for people not on your list. Remember that handmade gifts like holiday cookies or a thoughtful handwritten note with a family photo are great gifts too!

When a sale doesn’t save you money

Finding an item on sale that you were already planning to purchase always feels like a win. However, when you are just buying to buy, because something looks like a good deal, that’s not a win. I fell victim to the Black Friday sales this year. I went to a big box store just to buy donuts for breakfast. One hour later and with $140 less in my pocket, I walked out of the store with a cart full of stuff I didn’t need. The holiday music, the decorations, and the sale signs everywhere put me in the mood to shop and I learned the hard way that not all sales will save me money.

Blowing past budgets

It’s easy to get into the holiday spirit of gift giving. Thinking about the smile on a loved one’s face when they’re opening your gift will give you all the feels. However, it’s also easy to go overboard with gifts and blow past the good intentions you had of sticking to your holiday budget.

For older kids and adults who might be dreaming of a holiday gift that just isn’t in your budget, think about giving gift cards instead. Gift cards will help you stay perfectly on budget, right down to the penny. Navy Federal Credit Union’s gift cards are safer than giving cash and don’t have any purchase fees. Plus, teens will love that you can personalize them with their own name and a custom message too.

Plan and track your spending

Now that you’ve created your holiday budget, you’ll need to decide how you plan to purchase everything. Cash keeps a lot of people honest with their holiday spending. It’s easy to track because once your cash is spent, you’re done shopping!

If you are a responsible credit card user, take advantage of a credit card with perks. Navy Federal Credit Union has the perfect card for you to help you track spending on the go and earn cash back on purchases you were going to make anyways. You will even have access to an online Member Mall where you can shop your favorite stores and get exclusive deals and discounts.

Avoid Spending Creep

Talking about money makes a lot of people uneasy. So, talking about holiday spending and gifting limits with your family and friends might not be for everyone. If you think you can have this conversation with your friends and family, be brave and go for it! A secret gift exchange or pulling names from a hat is another way to keep your holiday spending in check and minimize financial stress.

This year I finally asked my sister-in-law if she would be alright with putting a $25 limit on the gifts we exchange with each other’s children. I was nervous to talk about money, but she eagerly agreed!  She even thanked me for bringing up the topic, it was on her mind too!

Beat the financial and emotional stress of the holidays by sticking to your budget. Following your budget will allow you enjoy your holidays with friends and family instead of stressing about gifts and money. As you leap into the New Year, you’ll be glad you followed your plan!

Why choose Navy Federal?

Since 1933, Navy Federal Credit Union has strived to be the most preferred financial institution serving the military and their families. Navy Federal is member-owned and not-for-profit, and their aim is to act in the best interest of their members. Navy Federal Credit Union goes beyond simply safeguarding your money — they want to help you achieve your financial goals. Navy Federal is federally insured by NCUA and is an Equal Housing Lender. Visit for more information.

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Navy Federal Credit Union. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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