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Posted by US News on November 20, 2014 by Holly Johnson

The holiday shopping season officially kicks off the Friday after Thanksgiving. There is no better time than now to gear up and tackle your holiday budget planning so you can avoid that holiday shopping hangover come January.

Here are financial ways to whip your budget into shape for the holidays without sacrificing gift giving or other financial goals.

Reflect on last year. If last year’s shopping season was a budget-busting disaster, then now is the time to learn from your mistakes. Take a look at your holiday bills from a year ago and think about whether your financial situation has improved or worsened since then. Be honest with yourself. Are you really up for a repeat spending performance this year? If not, start thinking about how much you can realistically afford to spend, and make sure it’s reflected in your new holiday budget.

Set a dollar amount. And stick to it! While holiday spending often feels essential, it’s easy to get swept away in the shopping frenzy and end up spending more than you can afford. So before you start shopping, use this opportunity to develop a realistic budget where you designate a specific dollar amount for each item or person on your list. Easily create, manage and stick to your budget using a free online personal finance management tool that can also help you manage your money on the go.

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