Getty Images

It's the most wonderful time of year — except on your wallet. Thanksgiving is now over and if you didn't buy all your presents on Black Friday, deals are going to be hard to come by now. And if you're young and just starting out, there's even less opportunities to save.

So, since we're officially on that Christmas "creep," here's a definitive guide to greeting 2018 with a few more digits in your bank account.

Make a list

Giphy

Although the most basic of traditions, making a list first could end your bad budgeting behavior before it even starts. We often ask ourselves what we can get everyone and how we can make it the best Christmas ever.

However, before jotting down present ideas for your "Nice List," instead ask yourself what you can actually afford this holiday season. Make a maximum price ceiling for each person instead — and cut out the people who are definitely not going to return the gift giving favor.

Establishing a budget for the holidays allows you to control the unbridled giving, protecting you from your own expectations. Build a budget that will let you enjoy the next 364 days after Christmas.

Wait before you buy

Giphy

Giving is a great part of the holidays, but buying is the BEST! Living in this capitalistic society, we as humans are conditioned to want to spend money. Being almost as counterintuitive as the last tip, waiting 24 hours before clicking "purchase" on dad's new Kitchen Aid will keep your paycheck from leaving your bank account so soon.

Events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday create anxieties about missing those so-called doorbusters — however, most of these deals are extended days and weeks beyond the time they're allotted.

For instance — Amazon's Cyber Monday event is practically undone by its "Deals Week." In addition, most stores and sites will offer deals right up until the last days before Christmas. E-commerce certainly gives us the instant gratification that comes with shopping online, but convenience allows for us to become click-happy.

By waiting 24 hours before checking out, you give yourself enough time to reflect on your budget and the gift itself, eliminating buyer's remorse as well as poor budgeting.

Give your gift in other ways

Giphy

Family and friends make the holidays both worthwhile and expensive — however, the key to any celebration is the family-gathering. If you and your loved ones are truly interested in the spirit of Christmas, expensive presents won't be the only thing ya'll are worried about.

Of course, gift giving is important in demonstrating appreciation and tradition, but it doesn't mean that your second cousin should expect the new Nintendo Switch from you. Instead, why not knit a special sweater for your grandmother or DIY some personal items for your significant other?

This doesn't mean you're copping out as a cheapskate — measuring the value of a gift and what it will mean to you and the person receiving it will bring some perspective to the holidays. Family is much more important than stuff and in this case it truly is the thought that counts.

The key to any budget — and certainly to these three pillars of Christmas survival — is maintaining a realistic understanding of your financial capabilities. While Christmas is a magical time, to navigate it unscathed you will need a few skills that are rather ordinary.

Subscribe to PayPath Newsletter
PayPath
Follow Us on

I thought I had a pretty good handle on my finances out of school. I worked several jobs while attending university and had little to no problem managing my income. However, once I graduated, I realized how much more complicated personal accounting could really be.

There were so many variables I needed to keep track of. Biweekly bills, monthly charges, and general necessities amounted to a heap of confusing numbers that were often impossible to decipher. The funniest part was that I was actually trying to do this by hand (I don't know what I was trying to prove to myself, either).

After messing up for the 17th time, I decided to give Microsoft Excel a shot. I used Excel a bit in school and I knew all the big-wig finance people used it, so what could I possibly have to lose? The answer is about six hours of my precious time. Excel isn't much of an improvement over handwriting and it's still dependent on the user to manually input all of the information. It's like doing everything by hand with the slightest help, meaning that it still required a tremendous amount of time and concentration. Well that was all for nothing, I guess.

It's sort of funny. I was certain that I could manage my personal finances with ease, when it's practically a full-time job. I was already stressed out enough with my first job and I knew I didn't have enough time to give my finances the attention it deserved.

That's why I decided to try out a budgeting app. My best friend told me that he uses an app called Truebill to manage his finances. "What does it even mean to manage your finances?" I asked him. He told me that Truebill was the personal financial assistant I wished I could have. It could aggregate all of my account information into one place and give me specific insights and actions.

I loved the idea of having full control over my finances, especially during a time of financial uncertainty, and I realized that Truebill would be the easiest way to accomplish this. The user interface is incredibly simple and intuitive, so it doesn't even feel like a finance app! Truebill offers a multitude of features, with their most popular being the ability to cancel subscriptions with the press of a button.

Okay, I had no idea how many subscriptions I was still subscribed to. In fact, I wasn't even using a quarter of the subscription services I was signed up for. Subscription boxes, streaming services, my old gym, and even an old subscription to my favorite magazine--it was all there and I was livid. How could I let myself waste all of this money and how did I never catch this? Thank goodness for Truebill.

Truebill also offers bill negotiations. There is a 40% fee based on how much you save and Truebill even claims that there is an 85% chance that they'll be able to lower your bill once a negotiation is requested. Why wouldn't I take them up on this? There was zero risk and I would only have to pay once my bill was lowered (which means that I would be saving money regardless).

More standard features of Truebill include the ability to generate a credit report on-demand and even request a pay advance. I only used the pay advance feature once when I wanted to buy a gift for my mom, but didn't have enough cash in hand and Truebill automatically reimbursed itself when I got my next paycheck.

The credit report is another fantastic feature and practically taught me what good credit meant. Truebill's credit report basically shows you which financial decisions have the most significant impact on your credit score and ways that you can improve your credit month-over-month. I've never had such control over my credit and it feels good.

I'll be the first to admit that I was extremely naive coming out of school. I figured that as long as I was attentive, I could manage my finances with ease. We manage money to some extent throughout our entire lives, but once you're thrown out on your own, it's a completely different story. With Truebill, I've finally been able to take control over my finances and stay on top of all of my responsibilities.

Update: Our friends at Truebill are extending a special offer to our readers! Follow this link to sign-up for Truebill.