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Tips to Reduce Holiday Financial Stress

How to keep your expenses low this holiday season and reduce your stress.

Nashville, Ark. – It has started at my house and chances are it has your house too! Shopping for Christmas gift giving has begun. The stores have been preparing for the past few weeks, holiday commercials are common on most television channels, and you may have started thinking about what you plan to give. For many people, this can be a very stressful time of the year.

Here are some tips to help you keep expenses low and have more fun this holiday season.

  • Discuss and set a budget with your family. Involve all members of the family. Families may be comprised of people with varying personalities and values, especially when it comes to money. One person may find it easy to stick to a budget, another may not and may be more likely to be “caught up” in the moment. Address these differences early on.
  • Match your expenses to your income. Consider having a separate savings account for holiday spending. Track all your expenses this year and plan to save some each month to put into a Christmas savings account for next year.
  • Make a grocery list before you go to the store. Take it with you!
  • Make a gift list and stick to it. List all the people that you may buy gifts for and estimate how much you will spend on each gift. If you have someone on your list that wants one big item, you may need to adjust what else they will receive.
  • Avoid promising to buy a certain item for someone on your list. The holidays are stressful enough. It brings to mind the holiday movie classic where two dads fight over the same gift for their son. Remember the reason for the holidays!
  • Shop around. Scope out prices online and check out the sales ads before buying on impulse. Many companies are starting sales earlier this year.
  • Sign up for your favorite retailer’s emails to get the latest deals. At the very least, most will offer several discounts and coupons to use.
  • Use credit cards wisely. A bargain is no longer a bargain when interest is added to the purchase price. If it takes more than a month to pay off the balance, then you probably haven’t saved anything, and it could cost you more in the long run.
  • Offer to share the meal expenses by making holiday meals a potluck affair.
  • Trade or share decorations with friends instead of buying all new decorations each year.
  • Meet friends to enjoy a meal together instead of swapping gifts. Enjoy just being with those you love!
  • Draw names and have a gift exchange if you have a large family and gift giving is a must. With this method, each person only has to buy one gift. Let’s face it, most of us receive much more than we can ever use at Christmas.
  • Consider planning a family event to make memories instead of buying each other gifts that you may not need. Start a new tradition!

Look forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays without financial stress. If you would like some information on basic budgeting, nutrition, food safety or staying active this holiday season, contact the Howard County Extension Service at 870-845-7517 or visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse or check out the website The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.


Recipe of the Week - Cracker Salad

This recipe was featured at the recent Extension Homemakers “Ol’ Fashioned Christmas” event. Many people commented on how tasty it was. This recipe will make a great addition to any holiday meal.

  • 1/4 lb. saltine crackers, crushed                   
  • 6 boiled eggs, chopped
  • 1 dill pickle, chopped
  • 1 (2 oz.) jar pimiento, chopped
  • 1 med. onion, chopped
  • 1 small green pepper, chopped
  • 1 pt. mayonnaise
  • 1 c. grated Cheddar cheese


  1. Mix all ingredients except cheese together.
  2. Put into a serving bowl.
  3. Spread grated cheese on top. Refrigerate.


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


The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.