Christmas and New Year’s holidays are around the corner. The festive season is one of the most exciting and anticipated times of the year; children expect gifts, some adults expect to party 24/7, and families look forward to spending quality time together, among other things. But during these particular holidays, spending can go over our heads, because we are very happy, we feel it is okay to over spend since it is the festive season. And some people feel that spending little will not be fun, but we don’t want to start the New Year with nothing, do we? We can have a great holiday and still mind our budget as there are so many activities that won’t completely empty our pockets. Pamella Munezero, an entrepreneur based in Kigali, says that one way to avoid overspending is to plan ahead for the holidays and set a budget. “Before the holiday season even begins, decide and plan how much money you want to spend. Go through all the different parts of holiday shopping like gifts, travel, and food. Then divide your budget into different categories; how much do you desire to spend on gifts? How much will travel cost? How many special events are on your calendar and how much will they cost? And if you find that the num bers aren’t adding up or that the budget is exceeding your ideal budget, then decide what sacrifices you need to make. It will be easier that way, you can create a sheet on your computer for the plan or have a journal,” she says. Munezero adds that although setting a budget may sometimes not stop a person from overspending, setting it should come with being aware of inconveniences and learning how to cut them down. “Those small things that appear at the last minute that we don’t really need tend to increase the budget, hence overspending. You should learn how to cut them and maybe think before purchasing anything. Do I really need this, or do I just want it? A need and a want are different, if it is a want you can even get it next year when you plan for it, and there are some needs that are not really worth it at the time, you can also ignore them and keep in mind to plan for them next year,” she says. She suggests remembering the rule of buying only what you need, the things that are needed at the moment. Joel Murengezi explains that a good time during the holidays doesn’t require eating in expensive restaurants, travelling expensively, or buying expensive things as some people tend to believe. “You might have the money for all that but also being mindful of your spending is smart, you can have dinner in a cheap restaurant and still have a good time, the idea here is to enjoy the holidays with your people. Spend accordingly, if you have a tight budget look out for simple but good reviewed places to spend your holidays,” he says. One trick to wise financial control is to track your spending on a daily basis, Murengezi says. “If you have set your budget thoughtfully, it is important to stay consistent with it. Because of the extra shopping during the holidays, the importance of tracking your spending can’t be overstated. You can list your daily spending in a journal, or even on your phone, you don’t need fancy software to accomplish that, and at the end of each day, just record the items you spent money on that day, and then compare it regularly with the budget you created,” he suggests. Reyna Gobel in her article ‘8 Tips To Help You Control Holiday Spending’ offers more guidelines: Make your own ‘naughty or nice’ list Santa has to buy presents for the whole world, but you don’t. If your shopping list includes more than five people outside of your immediate family, start cutting it. Then, bake some cookies to give to all the people you snipped from your original gift list. This will ensure you spread the holiday cheer and keep you from looking like Scrooge. Be realistic about your budget Your older brother paid off his student loans five years ago, and he always gets you the fanciest presents. However, if you are in a different place in your financial life, don’t feel you have to follow suit. Give the gift of your time Mom and dad (or other far-away family and friends) might love nothing more than a visit from you. Another idea? Writing up a ‘free night of babysitting’ card for family and friends with young children, or ‘good for a home-cooked meal’ certificate for your widowed uncle that can be used when the time is right. Organize group volunteering, not holiday parties Your friends probably struggle with overspending as much as you do over the holidays. Give them the relief of forgoing buying gifts for you by organizing a group volunteer day instead. It’s possible to volunteer virtually, too. You’ll come out of the day feeling proud of your efforts rather than suffering from buyer’s remorse, and anyone can benefit from volunteering.