Ready or not, here come the holidays.
Elizabeth Kiss, Kansas State University family resource management specialist, says the annual onslaught begins for many with Halloween and extends to Thanksgiving, Christmas and other December celebrations.
“And to that,” she says, “I would add a fourth: New Year’s Eve.”
“Retailers want us to be thinking about the holidays,” Kiss says. “They’re starting to stock holiday merchandise, so it’s a really good time to plan ahead and think how you would like to celebrate this year.”
In an interview by Jeff Wichman with Elizabeth Kiss on the weekly radio program “Sound Living,” Kiss encourages families to save money year-round to prepare for the end-of-year festivities — but whether they have done that this year or not, it’s not too late.
“What you could do is decrease your other spending right now and substitute your holiday spending for that,” she says. “Then, keep within the total monthly spending that you have been doing.”
Kiss called routine expenses — such as buying a daily cup of coffee or snack at a convenience store or bakery — “spending leaks.” Instead, for the next few months, she suggests directing that money toward holiday expenses.
Then, she says, make a plan.
Make a plan
“To really get a handle on it, it’s okay to start by thinking or dreaming big,” Kiss says. “Then, get real.
“Take a look at the things you might like to do, and then really take a good, hard look at what your resources are. How much money do you want to spend, and how much can you really afford to spend? How much can your budget handle?”
By outlining a plan in October, Kiss says consumers also give themselves an opportunity to take advantage of sales and other price discounts that retailers are offering.
Other tips that Kiss shares for managing holiday spending include:
• Pay in cash. Using cash makes it easier to track spending and stick to a budget, she says.
• Resist credit card offers. Some stores may offer a discount upfront when you apply for a store credit card, but consumers may wind up paying more in interest if they don’t pay off the bill in full. And, that discount may come with a requirement for more of your personal information.
• Shop locally. While there may be great deals and time savings found online, buying locally helps local businesses and may save shipping costs and delays. Plan ahead so you know what items you can buy in your hometown.
• Consider your happiness. Kiss says she’s spoken to her own family about decreasing the emphasis on gifts and instead increasing time spent together. Time spent making memories instead of accumulating more stuff may be the best gift to give each other.
“I do agree that things can be more enjoyable if we keep them simple and focus on the real point of the holidays,” Kiss says. “Ask yourself: Why are we doing it? What brings us the most pleasure? Those things don’t always cost money.”
Kiss and her colleagues in the College of Health and Human Sciences and K-State Research and Extension meet regularly to discuss emerging financial issues. To learn more about managing your money, visit