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How to make the most of the holiday season without financial stress

Crystal Graham
Christmas online shopping
(© flowertiare – stock.adobe.com)

Staying disciplined and budget conscious during the holiday shopping season helps consumers make the most of the holiday season, according to Virginia Tech experts.

“Shoppers need lists of recipients and gifts, prioritizing essential items and tracking expenses to avoid overspending,” said Jadrian Wooten, collegiate associate professor in the Department of Economics at Virginia Tech. “It’s tempting to be lured by good deals and go off-budget, but staying disciplined is incredibly important.”

Consumers are often presented with promotions that create the impression of financial losses if they don’t make an immediate purchase, Wooten said. However, if it’s not part of your budgeted plan, you shouldn’t make the purchase.

“Responsible budgeting, before we start shopping, ensures a joyful holiday season without the added stress of financial burden,” said Wooten. “The holiday shopping culture revolves around generosity, tradition and emotional spending, which often leads to emotional spending.”

To avoid falling into this trap, Wooten recommends people set realistic spending limits that are in line with their financial situation.

Another Virginia Tech expert says to consider creative gifts over the holidays.

“It’s no secret that inflation has increased the prices of the goods we want and need,” said Virginia Tech finance expert Jesse Lineberry. “If you’re having a hard time budgeting for gifts this year, consider making crafts or building gifts instead of purchasing items at the store.”

Lineberry advises avoiding high-interest credit cards. If you are going to use a credit card, Lineberry recommends paying it off in full every month.

“Avoid buying gifts with interest-bearing debt and consider using a debit card or cash if you can,” said Lineberry. “Pre-emptive budgeting can help ensure that we have the proper funds to avoid taking on debt.”

Budgeting in advance allows shoppers to worry less about gifts when the holidays finally arrive and allows for more quality time with friends and family.

“A budget will allow you to shop with freedom knowing that you can celebrate the holidays without causing damage to your financial well-being,” said Lineberry.

 

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.