It’s never too early, or too late, to plan for holiday expenses

YOUR MONEY: It's never too early, or too late, to plan for holiday expenses

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - It might seem too early to start talking about the holidays, but think about how much you spend in November and December. Between the gifts and family dinners, it really adds up.

Here’s how to stay ahead of the credit card debt for the holiday season.

There are two main ideas to keep you ahead of the debt hangover at the end of the year: cutbacks and a budget.

Baton Rouge area CPA Layne McDaniel says trim your spending first.

“Cut back on those unnecessary expenses that will allow you to put that money aside for savings,” said the personal finance expert.

Forgo that $5 a day cup of coffee and put that cash in a holiday savings account instead. Also, don’t let yourself run wild with holiday shopping deals. Carve out a plan.

“With anything to manage that spending is a budget, whether that’s $200 or $2,000. Make a budget and stick to it,” said McDaniel.

He says ideally, you start saving for holidays at the beginning of the year. If that doesn’t work out for you, it’s never too late to start planning now. Don’t panic if your savings don’t work out exactly as you planned.

“And if you don’t have all of that money saved up by the time Christmas rolls around, you can consider cutting back on those things," he said.

McDaniel says DIY presents and gift certificates are great ways to stay within your budget. If you do go over and dip into the credit card debt, remember to cut back.

“Continue forgoing those additional expenses after Christmas and use that money to pay down that debt," he said. “Set yourself up a budget on how long it’s going to take you to pay that off after the first of the year."

Ask your bank or credit union if they offer holiday savings accounts. That way you can start stacking away money and won’t be able to access it until it’s time to shop.

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