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Life and Religion

Tips to stay on budget this holiday season
Avoid financial pitfalls by preparing now
 
Published Monday, September 23, 2013 1:00 am
by StatePoint

It may seem too soon to start preparing for the holiday season, but with Christmas less than 100 days away, experts say starting early is the best way to avoid overspending.

 “People get caught up in the season, the lights and emotions of the holiday, often allowing their good financial sense to take a holiday too,” said Michael McAuliffe, President of Family Credit Management, a non-profit Credit Counseling Agency.

“Even if you do make your list, check it twice and stick to it, it’s a lot easier to save smaller increments in advance, rather than come up with several hundred dollars later,” he said.

Between entertaining guests, traveling, decorating the home and giving gifts, it’s no secret that the holidays can become costly. Families that fail to plan ahead, often find themselves with a real financial catastrophe when it’s all over.

 “It never fails that every January we are swamped with people who overspent and under-planned for their holiday spending,” says Sarabeth O’Neil Director of Development for FCM.

Rather than spending mindlessly this holiday, you can take steps to avoid maxed out credit cards, empty bank accounts and other seasonal pitfalls. Here are a few tips to get you started:

• Create a list of everyone you are buying presents for and set a strict dollar amount.

• Open a savings account reserved for your holiday spending. When the holidays are over, start saving for next year in the same account. While some banks still offer “Christmas club” accounts, they often have higher interest rates than traditional savings accounts. An online savings account makes scheduling deposits on each payday easier and can help ensure your success.

• Figure out what you need to put aside each payday and fund the savings account every chance you get.

• Start a list of gift ideas and start watching for those sales. And be mindful of return policies.

 

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