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Holiday Gift Giving: How You and Your Budget can Survive the Season

SAN DIEGO, Oct. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- 'Tis the season to be jolly, but all the money you're spending on gifts for friends and family may have you feeling less than merry. Don't let yourself fall into the trap of holiday overspending out of a misguided sense of obligation. Take the following simple measures to prevent a financial meltdown offered by California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT)

-- Make a list, and check it twice -- planning a realistic budget ahead of time will help ward off financial stress after the holidays. Make a list of those you will give gifts to with a dollar amount next to each name. And stick to it!

-- Manage expectations -- tell your kids, family and friends that you're simplifying for the holidays and then do it.

-- Start saving in August or sooner -- salting away even $10 a week will help get you through the holiday season. Paying cash is far less stressful than paying those high finance charges.

-- Get a head start -- no that doesn't mean hitting the sales at 4 a.m. Try to finish gift shopping by Thanksgiving at the latest to avoid the holiday rush.

-- Don't wait in line, get online -- the online world of shopping means no lines and no gas wasted battling through traffic. Browse at your leisure whenever you have spare time and you'll be done before you know it. Be sure to start early to save on shipping costs.

-- Do it yourself -- home-made gifts offer a personal touch that store bought presents can't beat. Plan ahead so you aren't stressed to finish them on time.

-- Start a family exchange -- pull names out of a hat to make sure its fair. Gift exchanges allow each person to buy a thoughtful gift as opposed to several so-so ones -- and you won't go broke.

-- Use a rewards credit card -- if you're going to be charging it anyways, use a rewards card to get the most out of your dollar. Those holiday purchases can help you earn miles for a cheap or even free vacation later in the future.

Above all, keep your priorities in order. The holiday season is a time for loved ones to come together; it's not just gift giving. Do your best to plan ahead and start early; avoiding last minute spending and stress will ensure that you and your finances survive the holiday crush.

If you find yourself unable to shake off feelings of anxiety, stress or sadness that creep up during the holidays, consider speaking with a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. A professional can guide you through the difficult holiday period and help you relieve your anxiety.

For more information about Marriage and Family Therapists, or to locate a therapist in your area, please visit

SOURCE California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists
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