Tweet Chat Recap: 10 Things We Learned About Budgeting for the Holidays

From pets and ugly sweaters to giant wine glasses and batteries, no topic was off the table during the #MerryMoney tweet chat hosted by GOBankingRates and TD Bank.

Over 140 writers, editors, hosts and experts across industries came together in the Twittersphere to chat about the best ways to avoid overspending during the holidays, resulting in numerous, super-helpful tips for those who want to prevent a holiday spending hangover.

Best Holiday Savings Tips From the #MerryMoney Tweet Chat

Highlights from the chat include ways to save money on everything from gifts to travel. By using some or all of these tips, you could make this your best, and most affordable, holiday ever.

1. Don’t Wing It — Budget

Do you accidentally overspend? Do you run out of money too quickly when shopping for gifts? Here’s the answer to your troubles:

Use a simple budget to get you through this year. For next year, start planning now. Some experts advise creating a holiday fund a year in advance. Brilliant.

2. Watch Out for Hidden or Unexpected Expenses

Random expenses can add up pretty quickly around the holidays, like stamps, gas, gifts for teachers, the electricity bill … and:

Read: 30 Sneaky Expenses You Forgot About This Holiday Season

The list goes on and on, and you need to be prepared for how these costs can impact your holiday budget. Preparing might mean budgeting extra gift money to include the cost of batteries so that your kid can actually play with the toy you went to all the trouble to get, or it might mean researching your options to save money on bigger expenses. For example, if you’re traveling out of town, don’t forget to budget for Fido, too.

3. Get Rewarded for Your Holiday Spending

In terms of payment method, experts advise using credit cards — responsibly — when shopping to minimize the risk of theft, no matter where you’re shopping.

Plus, the best rewards credit cards are great for racking up points you can redeem or even for getting cash back.

4. But Don’t Rely Solely on Credit

If you’re a serial over-spender, debit cards and cash might be better for you than credit cards.

Shopping with a money-savvy friend also can help you avoid going over budget.

5. Prepay All the Way

Prepaid credit or debit cards can be a good solution, too.

Prepaid cards can be an effective tool to help you stick to an amount you set aside just for gifts or for your entire holiday budget.

6. Set a Spending Limit on Stocking Stuffers

Midway through the chat, participants started talking stocking stuffers. Like, why are they so expensive?

Others could relate:

Keep the amount you spend on stocking stuffers as small as the stuffers themselves — try getting your family to agree to a $5 limit.

7. Santa Uses a List  — and You Should, Too

One mistake consumers often make during the holidays is simply not being prepared. Make a list and stick to it. One of the worst ways you can sabotage yourself financially is to not track your holiday shopping:

Lack of preparation can also lead to extra spending. Stay in control. Don’t let anything derail you from sticking to your budget, not even gremlins:

Try It: How to Create a Budget You Want to Stick With

And for the big buys on your list, check in advance to see if the retailer offers a financing option.

8. Use a Holiday Budgeting App

Apps are a great way to keep track of your budget once you’ve made it. Download an easy-to-use budgeting app to get you through this year without breaking the bank.

Related: YNAB, LearnVest, Mint Review: Compare the Top 10 Money-Management Apps

9. Get Free Shipping

Get your online orders in either on Free Shipping Day — yes, it’s a real thing — or in bundles that qualify you for free shipping.

10. Be Selective About How You Splurge

And last but not least, get creative with ways to save money for that big get-together at the end of December.

Potluck, when possible. Don’t forget the wine!

And remember what’s really important during this time of year:

How to Set Yourself Up for Financial Success in 2017

As you can see from the tweet chat, you’re not alone in thinking that it’s tough to come out on top of your finances after the holidays. Even Spongebob gets it:

If your wallet is feeling empty come January, don’t fret. To get back on track you can find a money-making side hustle to increase your income and start a savings plan to get your finances back in order. And if you keep sticking to a budget, you’ll be in better financial shape before the next holiday rolls around.