Fall is the perfect time to guard yourself against the upcoming attack on your budget known as the Holiday Season. This year, don't get dog piled by those extra expenses and find yourself staring at the shredded remnants of your battle-weary bank account thinking, "What happened?"

You know what happened. It happens every year. You launch yourself into the season with the jolliest of hearts and the best of intentions, only to wind up with a credit card bill the size of Santa's midsection. It doesn't have to be this way. If you plan your holiday budget now, the season can be merry instead of scary.

Set Limits for Your Spending

Of course you want to be generous, but the best gifts come from the heart with only minimal assistance from your wallet. That being said, stick to your budget and don't let your heart get you in over your head.

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    • Make a list and prioritize gift recipients. Are you being asked to force-rank your friends and family members? Yes. Should you feel bad about this? No. You're just staying within your means.

      In order to do this, figure out the total amount that you can comfortably spend on gifts. Next, create a short list of those recipients who simply can't be left out (your kids, your spouse, your parents, etc.). Now, assign a dollar amount to each of these people. If there's a substantial amount remaining in your budget afterwards, create a second tier list (other family members, friends, coworkers).

      Stop adding names to your list(s) when your virtual budget is depleted. Unless you happen to employ thousands of elves who maintain a magical workshop, no one expects you to give everyone in the world a present.

  • Limit your social calendar. Who doesn't love a good party? Holiday get-togethers are great, but attending a soiree usually entails buying a host/hostess gift, providing a snack or beverage contribution, and possibly purchasing a new outfit. It can get pretty expensive.

    Planning to ho-ho-host your own event this season? Depending on how many people you're entertaining, this can get really costly.

    Again, set strict limits before those invitations start rolling in. Can you reasonably afford to participate in 3 events? 4? Pick a number, choose your parties wisely, and politely decline requests for the rest.

  • Traveling? Start planning yesterday. If a holiday trip is in order this year, give yourself plenty of time to shop around for the best deals on flights and accommodations.

    Hitting the road? Strategically figure out which route will be the best to take. Plan to fuel up in states that may offer better gas prices, and try to avoid roads that could be adversely affected by weather. Do you normally drive a larger car or an SUV? It may be cost-effective to rent a smaller, more fuel-efficient car to use on your trip.

    And if you're bringing gifts with you while traveling, think small! Now is not the time to weigh down your car with a full set of woodworking tools for Uncle Fred who lives in Maryland. Nor would it be wise to pay extra to fly that stone statue of a cat wearing overalls halfway around the world to Aunt Martha. Gift cards and small trinkets will make much better choices.

The Gift of Affordable Financing

Make the season extra bright by making sure that you have safe and reliable transportation. If it's time to buy a new or used car, truck or SUV, Auto Credit Express can help you find a loan that fits your budget. Even if your credit makes you want to say "Bah-Humbug," our financing experts can work with your situation.

Just fill out our fast and secure online application to get started today.