Give Some Thought To Holiday Spending.

The most wonderful time of the year can also be the most expensive. Here are some easy tips so you don’t end up in a hole after the holidays.  

The best way to avoid spending more than you planned is to actually have a plan. Set a total budget. Then make a gift list and check it twice. (Santa knew what he was doing.) Start with the people who are definitely getting something under the tree, then add to the list only if there’s room in your budget.

Not all holiday expenses are gifts. Food, decorations, travel, babysitting (for those inevitable holiday parties)—they all go up at this time of year, and they add up. Don’t forget to include them in your budget, too. 

 It’s better to give than receive. But it’s even better to give and receipt. Keep yours. You never know when something is going to need to be returned. Also, if the price suddenly drops on that item you purchased a couple of days before, you can usually get the same discount. The catch? You’ve got to have the receipt.   

 The ghost of Christmas Past shows up in January—on your credit card statements—so try to pay as you go. It’s all too easy to charge now and worry about the cost later. But the interest you pay on credit purchases can quickly eat up any Black Friday savings and leave you in the red. 

The look of joy on a young one’s face when they open this year’s “must have” gift is priceless. But chances are, in a day or two they’ll be wearing the box it came in on their head as a helmet while they swordfight with 2¢ candy canes. Instead of spending big on the little ones, try to find gifts that keep them smiling long after the holidays are over. Bonus: you can avoid the wrestling match to get the last Polly Potty in stock.  

 It’s called a bonus for a reason: It’s something extra. Even though you may have gotten one every year, it’s not guaranteed. So don’t spend yours until you know exactly how much you’re getting. Bonus bonus tip: you don’t have to spend it all on the holidays. Put some away for those rainy days. 

 Last but not least: Don’t forget the ones that are often forgotten. It doesn’t take much to make the holidays something special for those less fortunate. If you fit them into your budget, fit them into your schedule. There are plenty of organizations who would love to have another volunteer.