FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- For many people, the holidays being right around the corner means it is time for spending money. With buying gifts, hosting parties or traveling, holiday expenses can really start to add up. Today's economy makes the holiday season even more difficult.

When you are Christmas shopping, you are not required to empty your bank account on presents. Personal financial planning experts at the Minnesota Society of Certified Public Accountants state, "You can still buy your family and friends something they will love without going broke."

Tip #1 Create a budget: Create a budget for Christmas and stick with it. This can be easier said than done, so write out the budget and follow it. Keep it with you as a reminder. To help you out, write a list of the people for whom you are buying and gift ideas rather than specific items.
This way you can pick items within that idea that are inexpensive rather than spending the money on one specific item that may cost more than you should spend.

Tip #2 Live within your means: When the holidays roll around, people love to give presents to their loved ones. This does not mean that you should spend more than you can afford. This can cause future problems. You should always live within your means, even around the holidays. Do not forget to follow the budget you made earlier.

Tip #3 Personalize it: The adage goes, "It is the thought that counts." Hence, there are no better ways to show how much you have thought of those people this holiday season than making personalized gifts. People love to receive homemade gifts, and it can be a lot of fun to make them. Of course, it will also be inexpensive as well.

Tip #4 Compare and shop: You do not have to shop in one place. Compare the prices of the gifts you are purchasing. What costs a bundle in one store may cost a lot less in another. You may even find a similar gift that is less expensive.

There are three ways to compare the prices of gifts: 1) going from store to store to compare, 2) looking through sale ads, and 3) checking the official websites of the stores around you. Regardless of which method you choose, you should always write down the locations and prices, so that you will not forget them.

Tip #5 Look for deals, sales and promotions:
Check the store websites, ads, and in-store signs to see when there will be any special deals, sales and promotions. During these specials, you will find that the price of some or most items have been reduced, making these items more affordable.

For guidance and information pertaining to your financial future, contact a financial counselor at Army Community Services at 751-5256.

Page last updated Thu October 13th, 2011 at 08:40