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November 17, 2013

EXTENSION NEWS: Planning ahead can keep Santa out of debt

By KATHY SMITH

Every year thousands of Americans go into debt over the holidays because Santa and his elves went a little over budget. With Christmas shopping, gas prices and holiday parties, it is no wonder we have trouble staying out of debt.

Dr. Nancy Porter, Clemson University Extension Family Resource Management specialist, says that it is easy to go over budget, as there are so many expenses most people forget to calculate into their holiday budge. The way to avoid overspending is to plan ahead.

It is important to have a written plan including all expenditures. This is also a great time to teach children about money management, as it is never too soon to begin teaching them how to make and stick to a 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. 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 just eat while they are out, rather than cooking. However, this expense is often forgotten from the planned budget. It is also common to forget to add in babysitting, and car maintenance. These should be planned for.

People are usually paying more for food, drinks, decorations, postage, greeting cards and charitable contributions during this time as well. To cut down on these expenses, it is suggested to have a potluck get together, where everyone can bring a favorite decoration items, dish or drink. This allows everyone to share the burden of the entertainment.

Sometimes family traditions can be costly. Eliminating one that has less meaning can help.

Gifts are the largest category in the holiday budget. These can often have more emotional ties and guilt feelings. Sometimes they are the more difficult to cut down on. But if this cannot be slimmed down, it is likely that you will end up with higher credit bills in January.

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