Congratulations! You graduated college and landed your first job. It probably didn’t take long to realize that the salary you were so excited to accept goes by pretty quickly. Between your student loan payment, cell phone bill, rent and more, learning to manage your budget got very real.

During the holidays, money can be especially tight. You may have spent December trying to scrap together some cash only to realize that your dreams of buying gifts for everyone from your parents to your new co-workers are gone. What will you do?

No need to stress. Sit back, drink some eggnog, and read these tips for last minute holiday shopping on a tight budget:


1. Create a holiday budget, and a priority list

This is a must, especially for recent graduates. Figure out how much money you can afford to spend on gifts. Be mindful of your other expenses such as student loan payments, rent, gas, etc. Once you come up with an amount, create a list of the people you are buying for. If you want to spend the same amount on each person, do some simple math and divide the amount of money you plan on spending by the number of people you plan on buying gifts for. If you want to spend a little extra on certain people, prioritize your list.

2. Don’t over-charge your credit card

In most cases, last-minute shopping equates to over-spending. You know the scene too well: You’re at the mall and feel like your options are limited. You see the perfect gift, but it exceeds your budget. You rationalize your expenditure by telling yourself that spending a little extra money can’t hurt and buy it anyway.

When your credit card statement arrives in January, the negative effects of spending a little extra money will leave you stressed and you’ll likely regret the amount of money you spent over the holidays. The best way to prevent this from happening is to leave your credit card at home. When you go shopping, only bring the amount of money your budget allows. You can do this by using cash or even a pre-paid gift card. By doing this, you prevent yourself from overspending and falling into the material holiday trap that leads to debt.

3. Get crafty and make DIY personalized gifts

If you have some time on your hands, try making homemade holiday gifts instead. Not only are they inexpensive, but they also can be more meaningful. You don’t have to be a crafting expert to DIY. I created this Pinterest board to spark some inspiration. Join the trend, roll up your sleeves, and start making holiday gifts!

Follow iontuition’s board Holiday Gifts on a Budget on Pinterest.

You don’t have to burden yourself with debt that will drag into the New Year to have an enjoyable celebration with loved ones. Use these tips to have a financially stress-free holiday!

Blogger Tara K.

As Blogger and budget aficionado, Tara K. helps students across the country enhance their knowledge about money management and everyday life. She is constantly looking for new ideas to transform into great advice for you. Pursuing a journalism major, Tara K. has a passion for the art of inquiry, which is conveyed through her writing.