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Holiday spending tips from CCOA

By: 5 December 2011 One Comment

The holidays can take a big bite out of your budget – planning ahead will keep your spending under control so that you can enjoy the season without lingering pain from overspending.

It’s important not to get too carried away with excited holiday shopping, because you can easily end up overspending. Holiday overspending can lessen the joy of the season as you see credit card statements and minimum payments going higher or have a tougher time making ends meet to pay all your bills.

“You can find ways to enjoy the holidays without breaking the bank,” said Mark Foster, Director of Education for Credit Counseling of Arkansas (CCOA). “The very first thing to do is determine how much you can afford to spend – and that’s not only on gifts, but non-gift items such as wrapping materials, cards, postage stamps and decorations.”

Here are a few more helpful tips from CCOA:

 * Give a family gift instead of individual gifts. Give something the whole family could enjoy, such as a family-friendly DVD or game.

 *  Buy presents after Christmas at huge discounts for family or friends you won’t see until after Christmas anyway. Many items are often discounted 50 percent or more.

 * Be careful not to buying luxury items that you cannot afford to show your love for someone. Instead, make a sentimental gift such as a photo collage, or give a experience that person will treasure, such as going to their favorite restaurant and to a concert or movie of the person’s choice. A gift of a family photo collage or copying VHS tapes over to DVD can mean a lot more to someone than a $50 gizmo or doo-dad, yet it won’t cost much money.

* Make your own gift certificates for baby-sitting, house or car cleaning, or some other service. Many people will appreciate this far more than some knick-knack you got for them at a store.

* Make a homemade food gift. Homemade goodies seem to be rarer today than years ago, making it even more of a special treat now. Some ideas include: cookies, cakes, or fudge.

* For next year, consider using layaway plans or getting a Christmas Club account or second savings account to set aside money throughout the year for your holiday purchases.

For a free budgeting and credit counseling session, consumers can contact CCOA at (800) 889-4916 or go online to www.CCOAcares.com. CCOA’s Debt Management Program can lower interest rates and lower monthly payments to help debtors become debt free

About: Ethan C. Nobles:
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email = Ethan@FirstArkansasNews.net.

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