Holiday Spending Tune UpA quote from Ellen Swallow Richards says “The environment that people live in is the environment that they learn to live in, respond to, and perpetuate.”
Hot Springs, Ark. – A quote from Ellen Swallow Richards says “The environment that people live in is the environment that they learn to live in, respond to, and perpetuate.” A person’s environment can have a powerful influence on behavior and certain situations or stimuli can trigger certain responses. During the holiday season, these can cause someone to engage in unhealthy practices, such as overspending. Are there ways to overcome this and create a positive atmosphere for change? The experts say there is and it is called “stimulus control.” One action you can take is avoidance. Simply stay away from those things that cause temptation, such as shopping malls and store circulars. Another action you can take involves reminders and warning signs. These are similar to stop signs at busy intersections. An example would be to put your credit cards “on ice.” Literally freeze your credit cards in a cup of water. The amount of time it takes the credit card to thaw gives you time to fully evaluate a purchase decision. If this seems unreasonable, put a note on the outside of your credit card with a caution statement such as “Do you have the money to pay this back?” A third recommendation is to make to-do lists and action steps. Here are a few suggestions for those lists.
- Discuss you holiday spending budget with your family.
- Compare your expenses with your income and consider setting up a separate account for holiday spending.
- Make a list before you go to the store. This includes not only gifts, but food as well. Holiday meals can be very expensive.
- Make a gift list and stick to it. Start by listing all of the people you may want to buy gifts for and then set a monetary value for each gift. This will help you set your budget.
- Avoid promising gifts that you may not be able to afford.
- Don’t buy on impulse. Shop around for the best deal.
- If you use a credit card, use it wisely. A good deal is no longer a good deal if interest is added to the cost of the purchase. Have a plan ahead of time to pay the bill.
- Only pay with cash. When you are out of money, the spending stops. Another step would be to shop with 100s. This may sound silly, but it is a lot harder for someone to break a hundred than a twenty.
- Keep a running tally of your spending. If you have made your “shopping” list, this should be easy.
- Use your spare change. Place all of your spare change in a jar throughout the year, including pennies. If you start in January, you can save a few hundred dollars by December.
- If you have a large family, consider drawing names for a gift swap. This way you only have to buy one gift.
The holiday season is supposed to be a joyous time with family, friends, and fellowship. It should not be a time of financial stress.
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By Jessica Vincent
County Extension Agent - FCS
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Jessica Vincent
County Extension Agent - FCS
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
236 Woodbine Hot Springs AR 71901
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