Tips for creating and sticking to a cost-saving holiday budget

WASHINGTON — Money coaches say it’s fairly easy to create a cost-saving holiday budget. One trick, though, is making sure your list is complete.

“Make sure that you include things like decorations and wrapping paper (and) the cost of postage,” said Timothy Johnson, vice-president of community impact for the United Way of the National Capital Area.

“It all adds up, and it can bust your budget,” Johnson warned.

Much like Santa Claus, money coaches say holiday gift lists should be checked twice.

Begin by deciding how much you can spend and who has priority for getting gifts. Then, think creatively about how to make those gifts happen. You might perhaps buy one gift for an entire family as opposed to individual gifts.

Johnson suggested baked goods and handmade gifts as cost saving options. “Oftentimes, doing that for people means a lot more,” he said. “It has great thought put into it and people appreciate that.”

Other budget saving suggestions include:

  • Use cash. When the money is gone, you’re done shopping.
  • When using credit cards, use the one with the best benefits.
  • Shop online. Comparison shopping online limits impulse purchases.

United Way experts and Financial Empowerment Center counselors are available to help with numbers of issues, including:

  • Financial coaches: How to create a budget and stick to that budget.
  • Housing counseling: Building a budget for a long-term goal.
  • Credit counselors: Examine your credit and recommend ways to improve credit scores.

Money coach meetings are held at the Prince George’s Community College Largo Campus. To get personal financial advice, you can make an appointment at 202-488-2018 or online.

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