Family and Consumer News: Control holiday spending

By: Adrianne Vidrine

It’s important during the holiday season to try to get the best possible value for our dollar as we shop for gifts for friends and family and look for extra cash for other holiday expenses.

For most of us, there is not enough money for everything we would like to buy, so we need to carefully plan how to use the money we do have.

The first step in controlling holiday spending is to make a written plan. Think about how much money you have to spend on gifts, decorations, holiday meals and travel. Once you have a dollar amount in mind, write it down and set spending limits in each category.

Decide how you are going to pay for your purchases. If you decide to use only cash, leave the credit and debit cards at home. If you are going to write checks or use a debit card, record each purchase and figure your balance before making your next purchase. This can help you stay within your limits.

If you plan to use a credit card, select just one to use. This makes it easier to control your spending. It is a good idea to determine a spending limit for using your credit card, write that number down, and each time you charge a purchase, subtract it from your total spending amount. When you have reached the limit you set for yourself, do not charge any more! Often times, when holidays are over, credit card companies offer to let you skip a payment. Don’t be tempted by this because it will only cost you more money in interest in the long run.

As you spend money during the holidays, keep your eye out for special deals, comparison shop using newspapers or the Internet, and use coupons when possible.

Another way to save during the holidays is through creative gift giving. Consider giving certificates for your time and talent rather than a purchased gift. For example, four hours of free babysitting or one free lawn mowing. You may also want to make homemade gifts rather than purchasing ready-made gifts. Consider having guests over for snacks or dessert rather than a full meal, you can still enjoy each other’s company while spending less.

There is always joy to be found in the holiday season by sharing the gift of kindness with family and friends, and it doesn’t cost a cent!

For further information, you may contact Adrianne Vidrine at the LSU AgCenter at (337) 788-8821 or you can also visit our website at

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