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You don't have to be a Grinch to manage your holiday spending

Posted: 12:23 PM, Dec 03, 2018
Updated: 2018-12-03 17:23:38Z

Not everyone is filled with holiday joy this time of year. Finances and family can lead to stress and anxiety, but experts say there’s a way to be smart with your spending and stress less this holiday season.

“Every holiday season, I get fatter and my wallet gets thinner and I really wish it was the other way around,” said JP Krahel, an associate profess of accounting with Loyola University Maryland Sellinger School of Business. 

In an ideal world, Krahel said shoppers should've started saving money for the holidays in July, but if that’s not the case, there are ways to stretch out your dollars.

“The best thing to do is to find better debt. So for instance, if you have a home equity line of credit that interest rate is going to be lower, so if I know I'm going to spend more than I have, I'd rather owe a little bit less later on,” Krahel said. 

If you can pay off your debt in six months or less, consider a new line of credit. Many cards offer zero interest for the first 12 months.

“Create kind of a master budget and say here's everything I need to spend, here's where my money's coming in from, here's the difference and then here's how I'm going to manage that difference,” said Krahel.

Farnoosh Torabi, a financial education ambassador for Chase, recommends creating a budget for each person on your list, add it up, and if that seems like a lot, go back and adjust.

“Just keep tabs with your spending as you go along. Take advantage of all the deals that are available to you, don't expect to pay retail ever I would say this holiday season. There's got to be a discount you can get,” Torabi said.

There are other ways to buy gifts as well. Cash in those reward points for travel experiences, dinners, or gift cards.

“Sometimes, you feel pressure to buy someone something but there's no expectation, it's really not necessary. So in that case, maybe just a nice handwritten card, a home-baked good,” said Torabi.

“A meaningful gift doesn't have to cost a lot. And an expensive gift doesn't always mean a lot. So it's more about focusing really on that connection with that person,” said Krahel.

OTHER MONEY-SAVING TIPS

  • Remember you have a month-long of shopping so space out your spending
  • Look for additional discounts through your credit card phone apps
  • File your tax returns early. It may feel like that's a ways off, but the sooner you file, the faster you'll get money back

For more holiday deals and tricks check out wmar2news.com/MatterForMallory .