AUBURN, Alabama. – Every year thousands of Americans go into debt during the holidays. With Christmas shopping, increasing gas prices and hosting holiday parties, it is no wonder we have trouble staying out of debt.
Sharlean Briggs, a human sciences regional agent in family resource management and workforce development with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, says that it is easy to go over budget because there are so many expenses. Most people forget to calculate these costs into their holiday budgets. She says the main way to avoid overspending is to plan ahead.
Have a Written Spending Plan
It is important to have a “written plan including all expenditures,” adds Briggs. She also says that 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.
Holidays Can be Stressful
The holidays can be stressful because of the shopping, entertaining, traveling and planning. These activities can be taxing on you and on your budget. Briggs says 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. Sometimes they get home and decide to go out rather than cooking at home, says Briggs. This expense is often left off of the planned budget. It is also common to forget to add in babysitting bills from holiday outings. Winter car maintenance is also an item typically left off of the planned budget. These expenses should certainly be taken into account along with all other expenses.
People are paying more than usual on food, beverages, decorations, gift wrapping, postage, holiday greeting cards and charitable contributions during this time, as well. To cut down on decoration, food and beverage costs, Briggs suggests having a potluck holiday get together. “Every one can bring a favorite decorative item, dish or drink. This will allow people to help you bear the burden of the entertainment bill. It also provides them with the opportunity to have a special recipe or centerpiece they enjoy at your gathering.”