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Xmas-giftsBy Bridget Small, Consumer Education Specialist, Federal Trade Commission

It’s holiday season; time to visit family and friends, buy gifts, and celebrate.

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of sales and shopping, but if money is tight right now, you may wonder if you can afford all that holiday cheer. Before you start ringing up holiday expenses, make a budget and get a fix on your income, expenses and what you have to spend.

Keep your budget – and long-term finances – in mind as you decide how to cover holiday expenses.

This might be the year to spend less on “things” and give meaningful gifts of your time and talents. Which of your friends and family would appreciate a memorable photo in a handmade frame or a box of your special baked goodies? How about offering to give music lessons, care for pets, paint a room, or organize a home office?

Despite good budgeting intentions, if you’re still short of funds as the holidays draw closer, maybe you can:
  • Ask your creditors for more time to pay your bills.
  • Get a small personal loan from your bank or credit union.

Having a budget and sticking with your plan will help you take charge of your financial life. You’ll be better able to manage expenses.

And, if you save a bit every week, over time you’ll have money for special occasions. The best time to start saving for next year’s holiday season? January.

Copyright 2014, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist

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