NDSU Extension - Mercer County


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10 Tips to Budget for the Holidays

holiday shopping on a budget, finances, gift giving, holidays

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Consumer Sciences

Americans’ average holiday spending in 2016 was $795.97 per person, with about $590 of that being spent on gifts for family, friends and co-workers, according to the National Retail Federation.

Other items included $105 for food, $55 for decorations, $27 for greeting cards and postage, and $20 for flowers and potted plants.

Speaking of shopping, did you know, for every $100 spent at a locally owned shop that $45 of that stays in the community? That means when you shop here in Mercer County you are investing in our community. Local businesses spend hundreds of dollars to support our local events and organizations. Local tax dollars stay local, paying for parks, roads and police.

Here are 10 tips from the North Dakota State University Extension Service to help you stay on track with your finances this holiday season:

  1. Establish a spending limit. Start by setting a spending limit, not with a list of gift receivers. Find gifts that fit in that budget and do your best not to spend more than that amount.
  2. Make a list. After you have your total budget, make a list of everything you need to buy. List all of the people you would like to buy gifts for and all other expenses. People often overlook the extra expenses (travel money, decorations, etc.) during the holidays. Think of other things you have to buy this time of year.
  3. Shop around. Comparison shop to save. With most of the big sales behind us for the year, you may think you missed all the good deals. But stores will have sales for the next month.
  4. Track your spending. If you don’t keep track, you very likely will overspend.
  5. Avoid using credit. If you are planning on using credit, make sure not to charge more than you can afford to pay off at the end of the month.
  6. Gift exchanges. Draw names and buy for only one person instead of many. Gift exchanges are a great way for everyone to feel included and receive gifts without breaking the bank.
  7. Homemade gifts. Homemade baked goods or crafts can be a wonderful way to give something to everyone on a tight budget and even may mean more to the receiver.
  8. Give the gift of an experience. Instead of gifts, start a new tradition and take a family trip.
  9. Make a large-gathering potluck. If you’re in charge of making the holiday meal this year, ask guests to pitch in and bring a dish.
  10. Avoid impulse shopping. Last year, 64 percent of Americans who purchased their gifts online and picked them up in the store ended up making an additional in-store purchase. Do your best to stay away from the temptation.

For more tips on setting a budget, visit www.ag.ndsu.edu/money, NDSU Extension’s personal and family finance website.

Source: Carrie Johnson, NDSU Extension Service personal and family finance specialist

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