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Let the Shopping Begin!

It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of Christmas shopping. Follow these tips to stay on track to avoid overspending.

Nashville, Ark. – Black Friday is the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season; however, many stores and internet sites have been offering “Black Friday” savings since Halloween. Retailers rely on you spending money. Many retailers are trying to entice the consumer to spend money at their site by offering “free shipping”. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement! In fact, you may already have the bulk of your holiday gift giving completed.

 However, you need to use caution when shopping too far out from the holiday. Retailers will continue to offer “sweet deals” and before you know it, you may end up purchasing more and spending more before Christmas morning arrives. Follow these tips to stay on track!

Make a list! Santa does it and you should too. Decide what you will buy for each person on your list, how much you will spend and stick to it! Write down the items you buy and carry it with you when you go shopping. If you see an item you are tempted to purchase, pull out your list and tell yourself, “I don’t need to buy anything else!”

Set a budget. Know how much you plan to spend on each person on your list before you head to the stores or online shopping.

Keep track of the spending. Write down everything you buy and how you paid for it; credit, debit, check or cash. Record debit and check purchases immediately so you will know how much you have in your account. Download an app to help you keep track of your spending. There are several free ones available.

Use coupons. Chances are there is or there will be a coupon for almost anything you want to buy. Find coupons online, through email or in your mailbox. Combine them with store offers to get the best deal possible.

Check it out. Know the real price of the item you are wishing to purchase before it goes on sale. Is it really a sale? Is it the same item? Is it something you really want or need? Is the quality the same?

Read the details. Know the return policies before you purchase an item. Is there a time limit? Do you need to have the receipt? Will the store refund the full purchase price or will you need to substitute an item? Make sure you agree with the return/exchange policy.

Pace yourself. If you plan to shop the day after Thanksgiving, know when the stores open and where you’ll go to get the best price. Save some room in your holiday budget for future purchases. After all, there are still bargains to be had at Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Stores will continue to offer sales up to the last minute.

Beware of impulse buys. Advertised sale items are designed to get you in the door. Stores spend a lot of time, thought and effort to setting up to entice you to impulse buy.

Holiday shopping can be stressful and it is easy to make unplanned purchases. Be a wise shopper! For more information on budgeting or consumer spending, visit or contact the Howard County Extension Service at 870-845-7517. You can also visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse.

Recipe of the Week

Are you looking for a great holiday salad recipe? This recipe makes enough for a large group. Nelda Barton, a member of the Twilight Extension Homemaker Club, shared this recipe. She always get praises when she brings it to council meetings or other potluck events. Great salad for a last minute addition to your Thanksgiving meal!

Autumn Tossed Salad

½ cup lemon juice

½-cup sugar

2 teaspoons finely chopped onion

1-teaspoon Dijon mustard

½-teaspoon salt

2/3 cup canola oil

1-Tablespoon poppy seed

1 head Romaine lettuce, torn into bite size pieces

1 cup (4 oz.) shredded Swiss cheese

1 cup unsalted cashews

1 medium apple, chopped

1 medium pear, chopped

¼ cup dried cranberries

            In a blender, combine lemon juice, onion, mustard and salt. While processing, gradually add oil in a steady stream. Stir in poppy seeds. Transfer to a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or until chilled.

            In a large salad bowl, combine the Romaine, cheese, cashews, apple, pear and cranberries. Drizzle with the chilled dressing and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

            Yield: 10 servings

By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517


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