As we get closer to Christmas, it's possible you might be feeling a pinch in your budget. Affording Christmas gifts on top of a shaky economy and rising prices is enough to test just about anyone's income. However, before whipping out your plastic to take care of the gifts on your list, consider using the cash you'd normally spend on household expenses, such as groceries, and applying it to your holiday purchases.

A few years ago, I lived in a beautiful farmhouse located 45 minutes from my workplace. The commute was long, but I enjoyed it. For a while. When my husband started to work in the same city, we thought we had it made: we’d carpool together. What was a dream quickly turned into a nightmare, though; the hubby’s job demanded he work overtime with no notice. Which left me stuck in town with nothing to do for hours on end.

If you are ready to buy your first home, congratulations! Investing in your primary residence can be one of the smartest decisions you will ever make. However, buying a home can seem like one of the most difficult and daunting tasks of your lifetime. Especially when it comes to deciding how much house you can afford. No worries, though: buying your first home can be an excellent (but still nerve-wracking!) experience once you decide on a price point. Let's look at the best ways to accomplish this.

Figuring Out the Basics

Continuing on our journey through relationships and finance, we come to discussing spending habits and the willingness to cut back on unnecessary items. This can be one of the trickier subjects to discuss because you both work hard for your money, and you both deserve to treat yourselves.

Another suggestion from our post about becoming equals when it comes to finances is setting bit ticket spending limits with your spouse. When my husband and I were first engaged, we eased into a big ticket agreement pretty seamlessly. We have always asked each other if a $50+ non-standard purchase was OK. Then, once we got into the hundreds or thousands of dollars purchases, we have always bought the item together. Our TV, for example, was a joint purchase.

I used to love my daily latte.  I was working twelve hour days, and I felt like I deserved a quick coffee pick-me-up.  In fact, at that time, I should have had a caffeine IV – it would have been cheaper.  Instead, I spent five dollars every day on a yummy, sugar-laden, espresso-bean delight of hot, steamy, oh-so-good joe.  Ok, so I miss my lattes, but I now feel better about occasionally treating myself to my nemesis.  I save money, and I compromise with my husband on our daily finances.

When it comes to investing, we're all a little like Adam Sandler's character in "The Wedding Singer," who said, "I'm a big fan of money. ...I have a little. I keep it in a jar on top of my refrigerator. I'd like to put more in that jar."

If you're ready to put a bit more in that "jar," here are four things for you to think about that will help you to plan how to take the plunge into investing. (Believe it or not, it's easier than you think!)