It is not too late for a holiday budget!

Make a list and check it twice.

The holidays are officially here and for many, that means long shopping lists. With the constant hustle-bustle, errand running and ongoing festivities, it is very easy to get wrapped up in the holiday spirit. Sometimes, this excitement can lead to overlooking the “reality” of our holiday shopping lists and how our purchases will affect our overall finances. Don’t let this happen to you! The following tips can help you enjoy the holidays on a budget: make a spending plan, consider needs versus wants and set a realistic financial limit for holiday shopping. Then, create a shopping list that reflects this financial goal.

The purpose of a spending plan or budget is to compare income (all sources) with expenses on a monthly basis. Recommendations are that everyone should have an emergency fund and should be saving ten percent of each paycheck. Having a monthly spending plan helps you see if your saving + total expenses = your income. If this isn’t true, then you may need to increase your income and/or decrease your spending and expenses. Visit Michigan State University Extension for a free Managing Your Money Worksheet.

Tip: Keep in mind that a spending plan should include saving for non-monthly expenses. These are expenses that we know we will have, however we do not receive a monthly bill for them: i.e. auto insurance, property taxes, auto registration, school supplies, etc.

Consider your needs versus wants. After completing your spending plan, you will have a better idea on what you can really afford. Do you need to scale back some of your holiday commitments? Do you need to make changes to your holiday shopping list, and if you don’t, what will the consequences be? What is a comfortable financial shopping limit for your holiday budget?

Tip: You can still enjoy the holidays on a budget! Many families do the following to stick to their holiday budgets: host a potluck, draw names for gift giving, make gifts, set a monetary limit on gifts or play games that include swapping inexpensive gifts.

So, make your holiday shopping list based upon your overall spending plan, needs versus wants and the holiday budget that you can realistically afford. To make the most of your holiday shopping, remember to comparison shop (i.e. internet, call ahead, store circulars), consolidate your shopping trips when possible, bring coupons, don’t shop when hungry and most importantly, don’t forget your shopping list!

For a variety of financial resources, including how to develop a monthly budget and classes located near you, visit In addition, Michigan State University Extension offers money management and homeownership classes.

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