With Christmas a little more than three weeks away, the stress of the holidays is already setting in for some. In a bid to reduce that stress, though, one group in Saskatchewan is encouraging residents to buy nothing.

It’s the concept behind the Buy Nothing Project, a way for people to give, receive, share, lend and express gratitude — without exchanging money.

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“Lots of people will put toys and gifts, things that they don’t use,” Charlotte Schriml, administrator of the Pilot Butte/Balgonie/White City chapter said. “If you’re giving something to somebody and expecting nothing in return, there’s much to be grateful for and it really does bring a sense of community.”

READ MORE: Here’s how you can avoid piling on holiday debt

The group has local chapters around the world, including five across the province. People can post anything they’d like to give away, lend or share among neighbours. They can also ask for anything they’d like to receive for free or borrow.

The only rule? No buying, selling, trading or bartering.

WATCH: Tips for sticking to a budget this holiday season

“Somebody had posted that they were donating clips to put up Christmas lights, so I picked them up and yesterday my husband put them up, so it saves us a trip to [Regina] and we’re able to decorate,” Schriml said.

While it’s a way to save money and get to know your neighbours, it can also help alleviate stress this holiday season.

“You do have people who are over spending on their credit cards, going out and using payday loans,” said credit counsellor Tanis Ell. “Which of course causes a snowball effect moving into January, because then you have double bills, plus those higher credit card bills and those payday loans come due.”

READ MORE: Millennials to hike Christmas spending more than any other age group: CIBC survey

A recent survey conducted by Leger for the Retail Council of Canada (RCC) shows consumers plan to spend $675 on average on everything from gifts to travel to food and entertainment. In Saskatchewan, that number drops slightly to $611.

Still, Ell says spending within your means, making a budget and checking it twice can help minimize the holiday frenzy.

“Looking at what all of your household and living expenses are, those are priority, and you can’t lose sight of that — making sure those are covered before you start spending elsewhere,” Ell said.

Ell also says to be careful of the buy now, pay later deal, and if you’re going to wait until the last minute to start your holiday shopping, use cash.

“If you can use cash, that will help alleviate some of the access,” Ell said. “If you have several credit cards, maybe only take one, and again it’s about having a list of who you have to buy for and sticking to that list.”

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