Auburn, Alabama — Every year, thousands of Americans go into debt during the holidays because Santa and his elves went a little over budget. With Christmas shopping, increasing prices and hosting holiday parties, it is no wonder consumers have trouble staying out of debt.
Gloria Marks, a regional Extension agent with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, says it is easy to go over budget because there are so many expenses most people forget to calculate into their budget for the holidays. “The main way to avoid overspending is to plan ahead.”
It is important to have a written plan including all expenditures, said Marks. “This is a great time of the year to teach children about money management, as it is never too soon to begin teaching them how to make and stick to a budget,” she said.
Holidays stress you and your budget
The holidays can often be stressful, especially with all of the shopping, entertaining, traveling and planning. These activities can be taxing not just on you, but also on your budget. Marks said that this time of year often includes a lot of eating out, and not just for special parties.
In the hustle and bustle of shopping, it is common for people to eat while they are out, or get home and decide to go out rather than use their remaining energy to cook at home, Marks added. This expense is often forgotten from the planned budget. It is also common to forget to add in the baby-sitting bills from holiday outings. Winter car maintenance is another item typically left out of the planned budget. Take into account these expenses along with all other expenses.
Ways to Cut Costs
People usually pay more than usual on food, beverages, decorations, gift wrapping, postage, holiday greeting cards and charitable contributions during the season. One way to cut down on decoration, food and beverage costs is to have a potluck holiday get together. Ask each person to bring a favorite decorative item, dish or drink. This allows people to help you bear the burden of the entertainment bill, while it provides them with the opportunity to have a special recipe or centerpiece they enjoy at your gathering.