NDSU Extension - Ramsey County

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Ready, Set for the Holidays

Ready, Set for the Holidays

               

                Holiday spending in the United States grows every year and has reached the point where everyone’s budget is impacted. We are all under a lot of pressure to buy more and bigger presents, throw bigger parties, travel more, and give more to charity. It’s no wonder that stress and financial worry prevent many Americans from enjoying their holiday season.  If you were asked about your holidays pending, how would you respond to the question, “Could you spend less and still be happy?”  For most of us, a truthful answer would be, “Yes, I could and yes I should!   This has nothing to do with being a Scrooge. But you also know from experience, that you end up spending way more than you intended.

                Some options to consider:

                Establish a holiday spending strategy. Determine how much you can afford to spend. To find a realistic amount, review what you spent last year. Was your budget able to support what you purchased or did you overspend and have to put some items on credit.  This year, make it a goal to refrain from overusing credit to subsidize your expenses.

                Create a holiday spending plan. Simply list all the areas in which you will need to spend money. From special holiday meals, to gifts for friends and family, write down how much you plan to

                Start saving money now if you haven’t done so already. Look at your holidays pending plan and determine how you will save the money you will need.  Your goal is to not resort to loans or credit cards to finance you holiday plans. Break the total down by paydays and set aside the appropriate amount aside as you are paid.

                Set a Kids Gift Budget.  Pick a per-gift amount (or range) that is respectful of everyone in the family. I’d also suggest that both sides of grandparents be on-board with this plan for their gift-giving.

                Skip or Pool the Adult Gifts.  . Do you really need to give/receive a gift from other adult family members? Create the same sort of system as you will use for the kids: Pool together all the adults in your extended family and then assign a gift giver –just one!-for each of you. And a budget.

                Buy Experiences. Okay, if you know someone is dying for some particular item, by all means, go for it. But if you’re not sure what sort of gift to give someone, go for a gift certificate or voucher for an experience. There’s actually some pretty interesting research showing that we tend to enjoy experiences over material purchases. And when we gift an experience–a massage, a dinner out, rock climbing lessons–there’s research showing that it deepens the bond between the giver and recipient, more so than if the gift was something material.

                Before the hustle and bustle begins, take control over your finances so they do not take control of you

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