Magazine article Ebony

Holiday Budgeting Made Easy

Magazine article Ebony

Holiday Budgeting Made Easy

Article excerpt

THE holidays are here! It's time to put up the Christmas lights, trim a tree, prepare delicious treats and shop till you drop. Keep in mind that all of these festivities associated with the merriment of the holiday season could put a big dent in your household budget.

According to the Federal Reserve Bank, even before last year's holiday shopping season, Americans had more than $700 billion in credit card debt. David Henson, principal and founder of Wealth Management Network, says Americans rack up 50 to 60 percent of all their credit card debt during the Christmas holiday season, but adds that no one has to go broke during the holidays. By taking a few simple steps, you can celebrate the holidays without going into debt.

Become Frugal, Not Cheap. Gift exchanges are the perfect way to reduce the number of presents you have to buy. By shopping at retail stores that offer free gift wrapping and by buying gift cards, you can avoid the hassle and expense of wrapping paper. "A frugal person operates competently acts within their economic means," Henson says, "whereas a cheap person, who is unknowledgeable, makes poor economic decisions."

Open a Christmas Club Account. Let your bank do all the work. Budget your money with virtually no effort by setting up a Christmas club account. "Opening a Christmas club account reduces at least half of the holiday craziness that tends to happen; you may not know what you're going to buy, but you will know how you're going to pay for it," says Glinda Bridgforth, financial advisor and author of Girl, Make Your Money Grow! and Girl, Get Your Money Straight. "By putting a small amount monthly into the account [I recommend by automatic transfer], the money will hardly be missed. Over the course of a year, it adds up to a nice chunk of change that funds holiday expenses and gift-giving. …

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