Christmas is a time for giving, but it’s also a time when many persons overspend, with some even borrowing to cover Christmas expenses. However, Rose Miller, lead for Financial Empowerment at the JN Foundation, advises that this is a time for one to be most careful about managing expenses.

“Struggling financially especially around the Christmas holidays is a reality for many individuals. But there are things we can do to try and avoid extra debt that will carry over into the New Year,” she pointed out.

Mrs Miller recommends the following tips to manage expenses at Christmas:

Assess your finances ahead of time
The first step should be to sit down and assess one’s current financial situation. She recommends that persons ask themselves the following questions: ‘What have I got saved up for the holidays?’ ‘How many paydays do I have between now and when I need to buy gifts, food, and finance other expenses for the holiday?’ She noted that having a rough idea of what you have to work with, and what you can realistically save between now and then can help you to stay grounded.

Set a budget and stick to it
Once you have a good idea of your financial situation, she advised, that is a starting point to figuring out where the money needs to be spent. Gifts, she pointed out, aren’t the only holiday expenses.

“Visiting and/or entertaining relatives and friends can add up, as can food, sprucing up the home, and even the cost of attending a work function,” she said.

Factor in your regular expenses
She informed that aside from purchasing gifts during the holidays, one’s regular expenses, such as rent or mortgage, still need to be paid.

“There are the utilities, credit cards, loans, childcare expenses, and your regular grocery shopping that have to be paid,” she noted.

Make your Christmas Gift list
She informed that when making one’s Christmas list, it is important to decide which people on the long list will receive gifts and those to whom it would just be nice to show appreciation. “Making homemade gifts is an option and sometimes will be more appreciated by the receiver,” she said.

Spend wisely
The JN Foundation financial empowerment expert warned that persons should avoid impulsive purchases and going after deals; it can be tempting to splurge when faced with these offers. “But before you make a purchase, ask yourself: ‘Who is this for?’ ‘Is this person on my gift list?’ ‘Do I really think they would like it, or am I focusing on the price?’  or ‘What other gift is this replacing?’” she said.

Track your spending
Mrs Miller noted that staying on top of your spending can help to avoid any unexpected worries. Tracking your holiday budget on a spreadsheet, app or notebook can be a good start, but checking your account and credit card statement regularly, and noting any other unexpected expenses that may have popped up are other options to consider.