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Financial Guidance Library

Helping others achieve financial success

Financial Guidance Library

Don’t let holidays cause a debt hangover

Many people will be spending lots of money this holiday season on gifts and entertainment. From hosting parties for friends and family to buying gifts for everyone they know, people often don’t realize that spending money doesn’t always equal happiness.

Some people can’t enjoy holiday celebrations because they are secretly stressed about how they will pay for everything. To wipe away the stress, they will find money elsewhere to use for the shopping adventures. From taking out a personal loan to charging everything on credit cards, there also are individuals who have been known to take out a second mortgage for their holiday expenses.

They don’t realize the damage they’ve caused until the financial statements show up in their mailbox.

Here are some ideas to avoid holiday debt trouble.

Gifts

Develop a budget and stick with it.

If you are low on money this year, have family members draw names or agree to only buy gifts for the children. You may think this will upset individuals but others are out there seeking the same relief you are.

Shop places outside of large retailers. Look on eBay. Visit consignment stores or go to garage sales. Someone’s junk is another person’s treasure.

Christmas Cards

Not only are Christmas cards expensive but so is the postage. Instead of mailing cards, send free online greeting cards to your family and friends.

Or, consider postcards. You can make your own by cutting Christmas cards from previous years in half and writing on the back. Not only will you be cutting the expense of purchasing cards but the postage will be cheaper, too.

If sending out cards is a necessity for you, then wait until they go on sale in December. The longer you wait to purchase the cards, the better deal you will receive.

Food

Grocery stores offer great deals during the holiday months. Make a list of all the food you will need and start watching for newspaper ads. You also can go online and check your local stores for specials and print coupons.

Use store brand items. Trust me; no one will notice the difference.

If you are a baker, give your famous cookies or cakes as gifts. People would much rather have great desserts than a useless figurine that collects dust on their bookshelf.

Entertainment

If you are opening the door to your home for a holiday party, let the guests bring the food. Make it a get-together for coffee and desserts.

When the family visits, watch old family movies or get out the board games. The children and grandchildren will love this.

Remember there are probably others in your family who need to cut back on expenses, too. By controlling yourself, you set a good example for others to follow. They will appreciate this more than you realize.

A frugal spender will be able to enjoy this holiday season with no regrets.

Jennifer Panther is a certified financial counselor. Her column, On Balance, runs once a month in The Herald.