Holiday Budgeting Not Too Late

Q: It's hard to believe that Christmas is less than two months away. What can we do to keep our holiday expenses more manageable for our family this year?

A: Even if you haven't been able to save money for the holidays, it's not too late to make a plan for your holiday season.

Talk to family and friends about a holiday plan. What is financially reasonable for everyone, or is this the year to start new traditions?

Nail down your holiday spending budget -- gifts, festivities, decorations, travel, clothing, entertainment, babysitters, taxis, hostess gifts, office party expenses, etc.

Write down your goals for this holiday season. Decide what's important before you're caught up in the hustle and bustle. Having a plan will keep your spending in line when things get busy.

Choose off-peak times to do your shopping. Eat first, bring a bottle of water and don't go if you're stressed and off your mark -- it takes energy to make good choices and to stick to your list.

Santa has elves, why shouldn't you? Get help by delegating items on your list to someone else if they are better able to buy those items.

If your holiday plans include travelling by car, now is the time to make sure the car is ready for driving in the colder weather.

If you are using a credit card, keep it simple and stick with one. Use the one with the lowest interest rate if you know you'll be carrying a balance. Set a maximum limit of what you will spend on your credit card, including interest and fees. We recommend not exceeding what you can comfortably afford to pay off within the first three months of the New Year. Your holiday memories should last longer than your credit card bills.

Click here to see our detailed, eight-week plan to keep your spirits high without breaking the bank this holiday season.