If you're a homeowner or you'd like to be, you know the holidays can be a difficult time to save money.  Here are some tips to help you stay within your budget this season.

Determine how much you need to spend.    We spend a lot more during the holidays than we think.  Aside from gifts, what other expenses do you have?  Consider:  food, decorations, gift wrap and postage, charitable offerings, travel expenses and others you have.  You'll see that these costs quickly add up, so figure out the price tag for each of these categories. 

Create a holiday savings account and add to it.  Keep a fee-free savings account open all year round and add to it as you can.  If you add $5, $10, or $20 a week, come December, you'll see you have a lot of money saved.  When the money in your savings account is gone, you're finished spending for the holidays, and you won't have any extra bills coming in.  You may be starting late this year, but if you do this now, next year, your account will be full!

Still want a little extra in that account?  Sell some things you don't need on Craigslist or Ebay, or take clothes or other items to a consignment shop.  Don't want to get rid of anything?  Take on some extra work like tutoring a couple of evenings a week.

Shop early!  Don't wait until the last minute to shop when you may stray from your list when you see a "deal" and the holiday crowds help you fall into a mob mentality.  The real deals exist before Thanksgiving, when holiday shopping officially starts.  When the stores and online sites roll out their sales, it's hard to resist a bargain.  But holiday sale prices may not be all that they seem.

Ad if you are shopping online, search for coupon codes BEFORE you start.  You can easily save 20 percent or get free shipping.

Be a savvy gift card user.  Did you ever wonder why stores have "refillable" gift cards that you can simply add money to?  Use these to your benefit!  If you know you'll do most of your shopping with one retailer, purchase a refillable gift card from it.  Then, each time you're at the store, add a little money to the card-and when you're ready to do your holiday shopping, you can spend what's on the card. Adding $10 every so often won't feel like a lot, but it can help keep you from overspending.  

And if you have gift cards frorm stores that you don't generally shop at or you find the perfect gift at, use these when you shop for gifts.  No one will ever know that their gift was purchased with a gift card.  

Save loose change.  Save all of your loose change throughout the year.  Don't spend a dime?  Put it in a piggy bank.  By the end of the year, you may be surprised to find you have saved $50 or even $100.  If you use cash during the year, you'll see your pennies really add up.  This is a great padding for holiday spending.

Fast financially for a week- don't spend any money except on bills and gas, the obvious necessities.  You'll be surprised at how much money you can save by eating what you have at home or staying in for a movie on the weekend rather than going out.  The money you saved?  You can use that for your holiday shopping.  This may even be something you want to try doing for one week every month.  

A few financial changes will make the holidays a breeze for you this year.  Give them a try and add a little extra jingle to your holidays.

If you're budgeting to save for a home, contact us at 1-866-399-8941 with any mortgage questions you have.