The Balancing Act

There is an old saying that's good advice any time of the year but especially during the holiday season, "if your outgo exceeds your income, then your upkeep will be your downfall." The holiday season is a festive time of the year, but can also be hectic and expensive. But families can find ways to have an eventful and happy holiday season when they balance finances with other resources. This month on "It's About You", Joanne Bankston, KSU State Extension Specialist for Family, Economics, & Management and Lora Lee Howard, FCS Agent for Clay Co provides advice on balancing the family's income with the expenses during this "giving" season as well as year round.

Balancing the Holiday Costs

  • Review your monthly family spending plan to determine available money for holiday spending and calculate the estimated amount of money needed.
  • Compare the estimated holiday expenses with the amount of money available from your monthly budget.  If the estimated expenses exceed the available money, look for ways to adjust the holiday budget. Routine bills such as housing, utilities, food, credit card payments, insurance, etc. must be paid before spending for the holidays.
  • Make a list of anticipated expenditures and estimate costs.  Consider all costs associated with the season- gifts, postage, entertaining, travel, decorations, and contributions.
  • Set priorities before the holiday season and decide what is most important to you and your family - entertaining, gift giving, or having fun.  Involve the family in the decision making to help to reduce the list.
  • Avoid the use of credit, including payday lending, if possible.  With current economic conditions, interest rates may increase and limits lowered.  If you are unemployed or facing unemployment, consider ways you can celebrate the holidays without spending lots of money.
  • Look for ways you can reduce or eliminate items from your list.  Use your skills to make gifts more economically, but from the "heart". Prepare baked goods and personally designed gift baskets or holiday decorations, homemade knitted items, gift certificates for personal services.
  • Holidays should be enjoyable for all. Avoid spending yourself into debt to create the perfect holiday.  Memories are made when time is spent with family and friends, and remembering the spirit of the holiday season.