The holidays are an expensive time of year. But with some easy changes, you won't break the bank this year.

1. Avoid Expensive Christmas Card Websites

Christmas cards are pricey, especially those popular ones with the photos. If you really want to send a photo for the holidays, make your own cards on the computer or have your kids make them with construction paper and stick a printed photo inside. Grandparents and extended family will absolutely love the handmade card from the kids. If that’s too much work, skip the expensive sites and go over to for some much, much more affordable photo holiday cards.

2. Look for Free Local Fun

Whether it’s a tree lighting or a block party, there are often a ton of local events that are free or inexpensive to attend. It’s a great way to get out and celebrate the holidays without spending a ton of cash. Invite your friends to make a party of it.

3. Stick to Your Budget

You’re going to set a budget for gifts and expenses this holiday season, but are you going to stick to it? If you don’t, you might end up turning to credit cards. Instead, try paying with cash, or shopping online so you can see exactly what you’re spending — and maybe even take some items out of your cart before you buy. We don’t need to spend a lot of money to make people smile. Even some homemade cookies can be the right gift to the right person.

4. Do Secret Santa

If you have a large extended family, getting gifts for every single person might be overwhelming. Make it fun by picking names for a Secret Santa exchange. Kids and teens will love picking a name and getting in on the gift buying experience. You can even set a max budget of $15 a person.

5. Visit a Couponing Website

Couponing sites are a big help this time of year. Retail Me Not can lead you to great deals on gifts and Living Rich with Coupons can help you save money at the grocery store by telling you exactly which coupons to use for certain sales and deals to get the most for your money.

6. Watch the Thermostat

I have a tendency to crank the heat up as soon as I get out of bed. But what’s helped is changing how I dress indoors. Slippers, sweatshirts, and fuzzy socks help us keep the heating bill down. Plus, all the pre-holiday house cleaning will get you warmed up too. For every degree you turn your thermostat down, you can save about 3% on your bill. That savings adds up.

7. Plan Ahead

Shop the after Christmas sales for deals on decorations for next year. Planning ahead will always save you money in the long run.

How do you save money in December?

More Tips on Saving Money this Month:

Tips for Going (and Saving) Green This Holiday Season

Top 10 Tips for Talking to Kids about Family Finances During the Holidays

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