With the holidays fast approaching, it’s easy to overspend and find yourself strapped for cash. A recent CPA Canada study found that Canadians on average plan to spend $643 on gifts this holiday season. Without proper planning, the average household will feel the pinch on their budget. Here are eight tips to save your dollars this holiday season:

1. Give up gifts entirely. Five per cent of individuals surveyed in the CPA study are planning on spending nothing this holiday season on gifts. If it saves your financial health, it’s fine to give up the holiday shopping frenzy.

2. Invest in experiences or skills. Some families and friends opt to spend on an experience like travel, rather than individual gift giving. Also consider investing in an activity such as a cooking or painting class, which can make great memories and provide a lifelong skill.

3. Make your gifts. Do you have a hidden talent? Singing? Woodworking? Baking? Share it! Not super confident in DIY? Look online for some guidance. Maybe it’s putting together a sugar scrub or whipping up a batch of cookies. Remember, it’s the thought that counts, not the dollar value.

4. Host a potluck. Ask family and friends to pitch in their favourite dishes. It’s a lot for one person to take on, so asking for everyone to bring a small dish helps lighten the load and the cost!

5. Use cash back. Using a cash back credit card in conjunction with sites like eBates will ensure that you receive the most cash back possible for your holiday spending. Signing up for eBates is easy and you’ll find yourself with a cheque in the mail from your spending, which you might sock away into savings or use to pay down your credit card.

6. Suggest a dinner out. Instead of gifts for each of your close friends, it might be more cost-effective to give up gifts entirely and suggest a group dinner out. Not only will you enjoy a great night out with friends, but you can also save on the wine and appetizer costs by sharing it among friends.

7. Donate to a charity or volunteer your time. It’s easy to get caught up in the craziness of the holiday season, but it’s important to take a step back and focus on those who are less fortunate. By making a donation in lieu of a gift or organizing a group to volunteer their time, you’re giving back to your community, and that pays dividends in itself.

8. Save in advance. Sixty-four per cent of Canadians didn’t save for the holidays throughout the year. While it’s December now, starting to save for the 2019 holiday season is important. Come January, if you can squirrel away a few hundred dollars a month, you’re going to be in an excellent position for the 2019 holiday season.

No one ever thinks they are going to overspend, and the CPA Canada survey results show that sixty-seven per cent said they don’t believe they will. That being said, it’s very easy to get caught up in everything and find your bank balance dwindling. Utilizing these tips will help you save in 2018 and prepare for 2019!

Janine Rogan is founder of JanineRogan.com a financial literacy resource that helps with money mastery. She is a CPA and tax specialist, and over the years, she has dedicated countless hours to sharing her knowledge through writing and speaking. She is passionate about educating people about their money so they can use it as a tool instead of having it cause stress in their life.

For more money tips, please check out her blog and YouTube channel, and subscribe to her newsletter to gain access to The Money Library.