Kinsey Love,  marketing manager, Lewiston State Bank

The holidays are a special time to make your family and friends feel special with gifts you know they will love. The holidays can also be a time of stress. The amount of love you have for the people around you doesn’t always match the size of your wallet.

Here are 10 ways to ensure you keep your spending in check:

1. Budget. Sometimes creating a budget for gift giving and sticking to it can make you feel like a “scrooge,” but when you make a plan, you won’t wonder whether you’re spending too much or too little.
Look at last year’s bills. When you’re budgeting, look at what you spent last year. Assessing this might help you figure out which tips apply most to you.

2. Buy as early as possible. You might get better deals if you watch the items you’re considering buying earlier.

3. Look online for better deals. If you find the perfect gift in a store or another website, scour the Internet for a better deal. You might find that you can get the same item for a better price, or upgrade to a nicer version of what you’re purchasing.

4. Make a game plan before you shop. Keep a note on your phone with a list of people to buy gifts for, and write down extra notes as you go along.

5. Make personalized gifts. Sometimes a small, thoughtful or creative gift is worth more to the receiver.

6. Give a planned experience. Time is a valuable gift. Make special plans with a family member or friend so that both of you have something to look forward to.

7. Try “one thing you want, one thing you need, one thing to wear and one thing to read.” For families or children, consider putting a limit on the number and types of gifts you will give ahead of time.

8. Find a way to serve during the holidays. Find a local charity to volunteer at, prepare a special meal for a family or prepare packages for local shelters. This may help you focus on a different aspect of the holidays besides gift giving.

9. Don’t buy with a credit card if you don’t have the money to pay it off now. Don’t start the New Year in debt by spending more than you can afford. If you are in debt at the start of next year, it will make it harder to save for next year.

10. Remember, gift giving is a chance to show those you love how much you appreciate them. Put in a little extra time and thought, and you may be able to avoid stress and overspending during the holidays this year.