Do the words ‘frugal’ and ‘holiday’ seem like opposites? It’s the time of year when there’s a holiday party every night of the week, cheer is in the air, and people give gifts in abundance. Frugal holiday tips are probably the last thing on your mind, but frugality can easily be incorporated into the holiday season!

Between travel, gifts, and donations, there are plenty of ways to burn through cash during the holidays. Who wants to rack up a bunch of holiday debt that will be waiting for you in the new year?  You can have a frugal holiday and still enjoy yourself.

How do you incorporate the spirit of frugality and still enjoy the spirit of the season. It’s easier than you may think. Staying frugal during a spendy season is all about aligning your spending with your bigger goals. If you want to be debt-free, stay focused on that goal when you head out to buy gifts.

We’ve identified three areas that people overspend in during the holidays. Follow these frugal holiday tips and guidelines to stay within your budget this month. Leave your own frugal tips in the comments!

TRAVEL

Traveling to spend the holidays with family can be the biggest budget buster of the season. Airlines up their prices big time, which can set you back.

In order to save on travel costs, the easiest frugal holiday tip we have is to think beyond the airport. Train tickets are usually somewhat cheaper, and cars or buses are the cheapest option. If you must fly, try leaving on a Monday or Tuesday, or even the holiday itself, when flights are a little cheaper.

More frugal tips:

-Check travel sites social media for flash sales or coupon codes

GIFTS

No one wants to be Scrooge when it comes to gift giving. You want your loved ones to know you care about them, and presents are a great way to do that.

To save money on gift giving, our number one frugal one holiday tip is to give loved ones a tool for a passion they have. A new pair of hiking socks for someone who hits the trails every weekend, or a new controller for a video game system.

By getting someone a piece of an existing interest, you can usually save yourself money in the long run. You’re not buying the whole gaming system for hundreds of dollars, but simply the control for a cool $50. Building on an interest they have shows you care while keeping money in your pocket.

More frugal tips:

-Use rewards points from credit cards to buy gifts without spending any cash

-Make homemade gifts. Things like Instagram Coasters are perfect for those who can craft, and DIY tea towels make great gifts for anyone in the family!

FOOD

Food is a huge part of the holiday season. It’s when family recipes take center stage, and everyone you see insists you ‘just try a little bite!’

Our frugal holiday tip when it comes to food is to eat at home. There’s no reason to go to restaurants when there’s so much home cooking on display. Give up the eating and drinking out for a few weeks this month and save that money.

More frugal tips:

-Focus on fresh. Fresh produce costs less than frozen in most cases. Use more veggies in your dishes to save on costly meats and packaged products.

-Leftovers are your best friend. If your friend’s mom wants you to take home some turkey and stuffing, you take it. Double the portion sizes you usually make and stick some meals in the freezer. You’ll thank yourself when January rolls around and you’re exhausted from the holidays.

Like we said, staying frugal around the holidays is all about staying focused on your bigger money picture. Go into the season with a set number for spending and stick to it. You can deck the halls and light the menorah without overspending with some planning!