Holiday budgets: Make it and stick to it

Holiday budgets: Make it and stick to it

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Here are some tips Mark Lloyd shared on how to make a holiday budget you can live with this year:

1. Prepare a written budget. Develop a budget for each person and, if necessary, use envelopes with each person's name. Paying cash for each item ensures you won't go over your limit. When you get them a gift, cross their name off the list. Be sure to get those gift receipts!

2. Make a list and check it twice. If you have a total budget for Christmas, make a list with each gift recipient and allocate the money accordingly. Again, follow the envelope approach if you tend to get too festive and overspend. If you're able to get a deal and save a few dollars, add it back to the pot for the remaining purchases. 

3. Forgo the cards. Avoid the plastic since not physically paying for things makes it easy to overspend. Last thing you need is paying the minimal balance on your card and that $30 dollar gift costing you triple due to interest. 

4. Comparison shop. Check prices for each gift online to make sure it's a deal and to stretch your dollars. Remember to factor in shipping and, given the new Georgia law, sales tax. Also, make sure to check the return policy to avoid any surprises. 

5. Plan for the contingencies. Don't forget to allocate for "wiggle room." It never fails that someone surprises you with a gift or you leave off one of your nephews. A good rule of thumb is two regular gifts. 

6. Give the gift of time. Above all else do not feel bad if you can't get someone a gift or have to drop your amount a little. The gift of time and friendship is worth more than any present. Spending time with family, friends, and loving on the kids is all the gift anyone needs. It's also the gift that keeps on giving so lavish it on. 

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