Enjoying the holidays without breaking the bank

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Give yourself the gift of saving, expert says

The holiday season brings not only overeating, but overspending, as shoppers search for the perfect gifts, often stretching their dollars a little too far and creating a financial dilemma to deal with after the festivities are over.

University of Missouri Extension Family Financial Education Specialist Nancy Lamers offered some fresh insights on the challenge of how to manage spending this holiday season.

"Many of us think of spending time with family and friends, observing holiday traditions, shopping the holiday sales and getting away [during the holidays]," Lamers said. "Most all of those have some type of monetary cost associated with it."

Whether on a budget or just trying to be more conservative with holiday spending, Lamers offered the following tips to save dollars, and as a result, peace of mind.

* Consider having everyone bring a healthy dish to family gatherings.

"This makes it easy on everyone's budget and helps all feel good mentally and physically by eating right," Lamers said.

* Play games at home as a family. Card and board games can be fun for all ages, and outdoor games are also a way to incorporate some exercise.

"Lots of people can play and you get more quality time together than going out to a movie," Lamers said.

* Plan a movie night once a week with popcorn at home. Holiday movies are on almost every night during December.

* Attend a holiday church service.

"Going to a spiritual service highlights the meaning of the season and helps us realize we don't need to spend money to connect with the important things in life," Lamers said.

* Take a vacation, but stay put.

"A 'staycation' can be better than getting away," Lamers said. "This is especially the case for those of us who go somewhere, like work, almost every day. Staying home for a few days is a luxury.

* Do your best to resist additional spending while shopping, and in the process, give yourself a 'gift.'

"Consider how the item will bring fulfillment to your life in the long run," Lamers said. "Remember, saving is a gift you give yourself that is more likely to help achieve your life goals."

For more information on issues related to home finances, people may contact the Barry County Extension office at 417-847-3161.

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