It’s already that time of year; time to plan your holiday budget, before you overspend. Some people shop year round, pick up gifts as they see them and are almost finished shopping by now, but not most of us. To avoid overspending, try the following tips:
- If it is necessary cut back on spending this year, communicate that with family and friends. They are probably feeling the same budget crunch, but were afraid to bring the subject up.
- If you exchange gifts with co-workers, suggest eating out together instead. It will save a lot of time and energy and allow you to relax and enjoy time together.
- Set a holiday budget and keep track of what you spend. Include all holiday expenses - gifts, entertainment, Christmas cards, postage, travel expenses, etc.
- Set spending limits for each person on your list as well as the other holiday expenses.
- Make a list of your budgeted expenses and write down your purchases to see if you are staying on track.
- Decide how you are going to pay for your holiday spending.
- If you plan to use only cash, leave the credit cards at home when shopping.
- If you plan to write checks, keep your check book updated and balanced.
- If you need or want to use a credit card, use the one with the lowest interest rate, if possible. Pay close attention to your credit limit and only charge what you know you can afford.
- Avoid impulse shopping.
- Take advantage of sales.
- When shopping online, look for free shipping opportunities.
- Talk with family and friends about drawing names or just purchasing gifts for the children.
- Give coupons for babysitting, car washing, photography or whatever your talent may be.
- Give handmade gifts or home baked goodies.
- Give family keepsakes or pictures as gifts.
- If entertaining family and friends consumes a lot of your budget consider pot lucks, so others help with the expenses.
- Invite friends for coffee and dessert or breakfast, rather than a full meal.
Be creative and stretch your budget as far as possible and you will be able to enjoy the holidays.
For more information, contact Patrice Dunagin, Smith County FCH agent for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, at 903-590-2980.