Many people spend almost double what they plan on spending during the holiday season, said Judy McKenna, CSU cooperative extension family economics specialist.
McKenna attributes a large portion of this overspending entirely to the use of credit cards. She said it’s just too easy for people to lose track of how much they spend with credit or debit cards and the situation can get out of control.
“It is so easy to lose track,” McKenna said. “Then all of a sudden January hits and you have this huge bill.”
The best way to keep from overspending is to make a budget, McKenna said. It’s important to know how much money to spend on gifts, decorations and holiday parties. Setting a limit is key to helping a budget succeed, McKenna said.
“The best thing to do is have a specific limit in mind for all of the gifts that you’re going to get,” she said. Keeping this list in a purse or wallet will help buyers stay organized and prevent impulse buying.
Debbie Delaney, vice president and branch manager of First Community Bank in Fort Collins, agrees with McKenna’s warnings about credit cards.
“I would say that you don’t use credit cards at all,” Delaney said. “Spend the money when you have it, don’t spend it when you don’t have it.”
Delaney recognizes the hardships students suffer by trying to stay afloat financially while paying for and going to school. She encourages students to make the most of holiday cheer, whether they have money or not.
“It’s the thought that counts,” Delaney said. “It takes the goodwill out of the holidays when you spend too much money because it makes it not fun.”
Dana Hammond, a sophomore journalism major, tries to follow all of this advice, but sometimes gets too carried away with the holiday spirit.
“I really try to budget, but I get really excited about stuff,” Hammond said. “Then what little plan I had goes out the window.” Her friend Natalie Crandell, a sophomore marketing major, says Hammond’s diagnosis of herself is pretty accurate.
“My boyfriend told me I shouldn’t have a credit card,” Crandell said. “So Dana offered me hers.”