Budgeting Tips for this Holiday Season

Finding extra money for the holidays above and beyond standard monthly expenses may pose an extra challenge this holiday season. Spending too much time and money on gifts, decorations and celebration can add to the already high levels of holiday stress.

"Most consumers admit to spending more during the holiday season than they had planned," said Judy McKenna, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension family economics specialist.

Here are a few tips to help budget time and money this holiday season.

  • Make a budget. Sit down and figure out how much money to spend on gifts, decorations, parties etc. Setting a limit helps you keep organized and prevents overspending while shopping.
  • Create a list of the people to buy gifts for. Write down a few appropriate gift ideas for each person next to their names. If unsure about a specific gift for someone, write down a dollar limit and stay within that range when shopping for them. Keep this list at all times to stay organized and prevent impulse buying.
  • Plan a payment method. Whenever possible, use cash or your debit card. This will help in sticking to a budget. If using credit cards, use only one to help you keep track of spending.
  • If paying by credit card, avoid charging more than can be paid off at the end of the month, and carefully track expenses. Record charges immediately or deduct the charged amount from the checking account balance. Keep receipts and check them against the credit card statement.

Remember that, although the holiday spirit is one of giving, give time and attention instead of money.