Holiday Budgeting: Making Tough Choices in a Recovering Economy

By April Lewis-Parks

The holiday season is officially here and you might be tempted to pull out the credit cards and charge this year’s holiday gifts, but we have some tips to help you get the most out of your holiday shopping:

Create a Holiday Budget – Don’t start your holiday shopping until you know how much you have to spend. Don’t let your holiday budget include adding more debt to your credit cards. 

Make a Shopping List –Write down everyone you want to give a gift to, what you want to buy for them, and the dollar amount you want to spend on each person. Make sure the amounts don’t exceed your overall holiday budget. If your budget doesn’t stretch far enough, consider getting group gifts or making a few homemade gifts.  Gifts of personal service are always good such as washing cars, mowing lawns and yard work, babysitting or cleaning the house.  

Stick to Your Holiday Shopping List – When you’re at the store resist the temptation to stray from your shopping list. Remember if you never intended to get it in the first place, then you’re not saving any money even if you buy more items on sale! 

Leave the Credit Cards at Home – People spend more when paying with plastic instead of cash. The easiest way to avoid putting your holiday purchases on the credit cards is to leave them at home.  

Practical Gifts – A practical gift doesn’t have to be a lame gift. Before you head to the store to buy a pair of socks or a sweater, pick up the phone and call your family to find out what they need. Sure, it takes a little bit of the mystery out of the gift giving process, but in the end you’ll be giving them something that they’ll use. If your family understands that you’re working on a tight budget they should give you gift ideas that are well within your budget. If you’re totally broke and unable to spend anything this year, then give the gift of your time. Send a note to your friends and family with the offer to share time, not money this holiday season.

The holidays are about expressing gratitude and showing people that they are important to you, and there is no need to break the bank or go into debt to do so.