Personal and Family Finance


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Don't Let Last-minute Holiday Spending Blow Your Budget

Last-minute purchases, such as gifts for those you forgot to add to your shopping list or stocking stuffers, can bust any carefully constructed budget. Or maybe you forgot to add gift wrap, holiday cards and other supplies to your budget this year.

Here are some tips to help you stay within your holiday budget:

  • Make sure you don’t get carried away. Sometimes you think you need just one more gift for someone, and then you realize you forgot someone else. Make sure you are buying gifts only for those who were on your original holiday list and that you are sticking to the budget you set.
  • Stay on top of your spending. Keep track of everything. You may feel like you have gotten such a great deal that your purchases don’t matter. Remember, if you end up paying interest on an item, you are spending more than just the sales price.
  • Even if you are buying last-minute gifts, you can get the best price by comparison shopping. Some stores will price match. If not, you may be able to order the item online and still get it in time for the big day.
  • Make homemade gifts. If you are artistic, crafts may be the best gift. Or, if someone on your list likes baking, give them a gift mix in a jar. Need a recipe? Check out the NDSU Extension Food and Nutrition webpage ( for recipes. Remember, it’s the thought that counts. You don’t have to spend a lot for a gift to be meaningful.
  • Hold a gift exchange instead of buying for every person in the family. A white elephant gift exchange, which involves gifting an item you already have, also can be a lot of fun without anyone having to spend a lot of money.
  • Exchange your services as a gift. Do you love to baby-sit? Offer to watch your friends’ kids for a night so they can have a date night.

It’s so tempting to be extra generous this time of year, which can really hurt your wallet. But with a little extra planning and thoughtful consideration, you don’t have to regret your purchase decisions this year.


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