Written by Spotloan

The holidays are full of joy and cheer to end your year. The time with family and friends is a gift that never ends.

OK, let’s be real. The holidays are hard. There’s a lot of pressure to find the perfect gifts for your loved ones and see everyone in a limited amount of time. And we won’t even get into what it’s like to try to have a conversation with that uncle. You know the one.

Another reason the holidays can be difficult is because of your finances. Every commercial, every store, and every event is encouraging you to spend a little bit more than you should.

How can you survive the holidays with your finances intact? We’ve got you covered with this survival guide.

  1. Be honest with yourself about how much you should be spending.

    We’d all love to have unlimited resources, and that’s even more true during the holidays. It seems like you’re spending money around every turn, and it can add up in a hurry. Try to prioritize your events during the holiday season — skip one if you need to.

    Also, think about how you’re spending money outside of your holiday obligations. Maybe have a few more meals at home and a few more nights in than you ordinarily would so you can ensure you don’t get yourself in trouble by overspending.

  2. Do your research before taking out a loan.

    If you determine that you want to take out a loan to help ends meet for the season, make sure you know what you’re getting into. A Spotloan, for instance, is a short-term installment loan, which means you pay back your loan over time. You choose how long you want to pay the loan back — anywhere from three to ten months. Plus, you can pay your loan off early with no prepayment penalties.

    Something like a payday loan, on the other hand, has less flexibility. When the loan term is up, usually within two weeks, you need to pay back the entire amount. Whatever that time period is, you can guarantee it’s going to feel too quick during the holidays.

  3. Meaning over money.

    When you are choosing gifts, place a little more importance on giving gifts that mean something to you and the recipient than you put on how much they cost. Did you share a special snack with a loved one on a particularly memorable day? Create a fun gift basket using it as the centerpiece.

    Buying a picture frame and putting a meaningful photo print in it is also a very inexpensive and heartwarming gift.

  4. Get crafty.

    Do you have a special skill? Consider using it to create your gifts. Gifts that take time and effort are often even more meaningful. Don’t have a special skill? It’s not too late to learn! Community education courses are often free or inexpensive ways to learn a craft.

    You can always go full-DIY and keep an eye on sites like Pinterest for meaningful and manageable crafts you can create.

  5. Go no-dough.

    Suggest that your friends and family do a “white elephant” gift exchange, where you find something wacky from around the house and wrap it up, only to watch each other open each other’s junk. In these exchanges, it’s usually the weirder, the better.

    Another classic option is to write out a number of certificates for your friends or family to redeem at moments of their choosing. These can be for backrubs, chores around the house, errands and more.

  6. Chip in.

    If you have your sights set on a gift that you know someone special would love, think about if you could split the cost with one or more other people. Stretching yourself beyond your spending comfort zone can be dangerous.

    Likewise, you can offer to chip in on another person’s gift if you sense they feel like they spent a little too much. It might surprise you how many people are feeling the exact same way you are about their finances during the holidays.

  7. Think carefully before you borrow money.

    Only you can decide if a loan is the right move for you. And it doesn’t matter who you borrow from — it’s wise to think long and hard before you borrow.

    Banks, credit cards, friends and family and services like Spotloan can all offer you money. If you don’t have a plan to pay them back, though, you could end up much worse off in January than you were in December.

The holidays can be memorable, stressful, glorious, and excruciating all at once. But you can make sure that you look back at them a little more fondly if you make intelligent financial decisions while they’re here.