Today is Black Friday, which means the biggest shopping weekend of the year has finally arrived. According to the National Federation of Retailers, American Consumers plan to spend an average of $935.58 during the holiday season. (Up 4% from 2016.) Here are 5 Tips for Stretching Your Holiday Budget.

Photo: Observer

1.Make a Spending Plan: Start with a realistic idea of how much you can spend on your holiday purchases. Make a list of everything you usually buy from the gift, to the food, to the entertainment, to travel expenses and tally all of those costs up. If you don’t budget and set a specific dollar amount, your spending will grow out of control.

Photo: Shutterstock

2. Know Your Limits: Make a list of gift recipients and decide how much you want to spend on each person. If you’re unable to spend as much on a gift this year, prioritize for whom you really want to buy gifts for. Then, communicate your plans to family and friends. If you tell them that you won’t be exchanging gifts this year, then you won’t feel embarrassed if they purchase a gift for you.

It’s important to remember that what you spend on a person does not equate to the love and affection you have for them.

So don’t buy gifts out of obligation or guilt.

Photo: iStock

3. Make a List and Check it Twice: Go to the store with a list of what you want to buy. It helps you move through the store quicker and avoid impulse buys.

Photo: Giphy

4. Be a Savvy Shopper: Comparison shopping stretches your holiday budget further. Fight the urge to get your shopping over quickly. Instead, take some extra time to find the best deals before heading to the stores by scouring catalogs, sales advertisements, as well as the internet.

Photo: Huffington Post

5. Load up your Wallet with Cash: Leave you credit card at home and just spend cash. This will force you to budget and make overall spending more obvious. Studies suggest that people spend up to a third more when paying with a credit card versus cash.

There is no emotional attachment to plastic like there is with cash.

If you don’t feel comfortable carrying around a lot of cash, use a gift card to keep yourself on track.

Photo: Giphy

Joe’s Money Trap of the DayDon’t fall for the holiday hype. Retailers work hard to get you to buy more things. If you’re not careful, you’ll spend more than you planned. Don’t fall for the credit card offers to skip a payment. You’ll just pay more in interest next month. Watch out for the buy now, pay later offers that encourage you to spend money that you don’t have. Bypass applying for the department store credit cards, just to get a one-time discount.

Photo: Pride Publishing

Joe’s Money Grab of the Day: What better way to celebrate the holidays with you family and friends than to go on a vacation? Resorts and cruise ships are hurting for business during the holiday season, which makes it a great time for a luxury getaway. If you want to get away, you’ll see all types of bargains available online. Just like cruises and hotels, rental car companies are hurting for business, and offer some really good deals during the holidays as well.

Photo: Rep Man

“The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket” – Will Rogers

Listen to Joe’s tips on the go! Check out the audio at the Joe Knows Money Show on YouTube:

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