• By Elizabeth Coots, Extension Agent

Family and Consumer Sciences

It’s not too late to develop a holiday budget The holidays are quickly approaching. While holidays give people time to spend with loved ones, all the extra purchases for gifts, food and decorations can quickly escalate. If you have not been saving all year, you might be starting to feel the financial pinch that can come with the season.

Developing a budget can help start your financial preparation for the holidays. Budgets give you a great idea of the amount of money you will need to get through the holidays and will help you avoid impulse buying. It is important for you to include all holiday purchases when developing a budget. Think of all the events, travel, charitable donations and gifts that you have planned for the season. Remember to list food and other entertaining costs if you plan on hosting holiday celebrations. Be sure to list each person you plan to give a gift to and the amount you plan to spend on them - no matter how small.

Once you have established a budget, review it. If you are not comfortable with the amount of money the season’s festivities are going to cost, a budget can help you find areas where you can make cuts. For example, maybe you can make decorations instead of buying them or use your own utensils, plates and glasses instead of purchasing paper or plastic. You may also have some people on your gift list that might enjoy a non-monetary gift, (like assistance completing a project or just your time). If you still need to tighten your belt further, prioritize your purchases. Your family may rather have a big meal together than lots of presents.

Remember your budget as you head to the stores. Consider keeping a copy of the budget in your wallet to keep you on track and to avoid impulse purchases. Try to use cash or your debit card whenever possible to avoid paying interest on credit card purchases well after the season has ended.

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