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Red piggy bank wearing a Santa hat.

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – Every year thousands of Americans go into debt during the holidays. With people shopping, attending holiday parties and doing all sorts of activities, it is no wonder we have trouble staying out of debt. An Extension professional offers a few simple tips to help reduce your spending this holiday season.

Have A Plan

Sharlean Briggs, an Alabama Extension human science regional agent, said it is easy to overspend during the holidays.

“It is easy to go over budget because there are so many expenses,” Briggs said. “Most people forget to calculate these costs into their holiday budgets. The main way to avoid overspending is to plan ahead.”

Briggs said that it is important to have a written plan including all expenditures. In addition to the holiday expenses, people should make room in their budgets for expenses that come as a result of the holidays. Things like this include additional babysitting bills because of attending holiday outings and additional winter car maintenance from the extra use of the vehicle. These expenses should certainly be taken into account along with all other expenses.

Briggs add 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.

Limit Extra Spending

People are paying more than usual on food, beverages, decorations, gift wrapping, postage, holiday greeting cards and charitable contributions during this time of year. With so many extra costs, it is important to limit extra spending where you can.

The holidays can be stressful because of the shopping, entertaining, traveling and planning. Often this means that people spend more of their budget on things out of convenience rather than necessity. Briggs says that this 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,” Briggs said. “Sometimes they get home and decide to go out rather than cooking at home. This expense is often left off of the planned budget.”

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,” Briggs said. “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.”

More Information

For more information on ways that you can reduce your debt this holiday season, visit www.aces.edu or contact your county Extension office.

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