SACRAMENTO, CA - With the pressure to spend for the holidays, sometimes budgets got out the window. Personal finance expert and author Eric Tyson has advice on not letting spending to get out of hand.
1. Find alternatives to gift-giving during the holidays. Instead, offer a service - i.e. free babysitting, host a potluck, pool funds from relatives for a holiday outing.
2. Try to cut expenses elsewhere if buying gifts. Brown-bag lunch, make do with last year's winter coat, cut-back on the coffee shop runs.
3. Make a budget and keep track of spending.
4. Plan what you're going to buy and stick with it. An extra $10 here, $15 for stocking stuffers, knickknacks, decorations really add up.
5. Leave the plastic at home. When you don't see what you actually spend until the bills roll in after the holidays are over, it can be very easy to overspend.
6. How you approach the holiday and spending can be a lesson for your children. Use the experience to have children make a donation to a charity, buy and wrap gifts for less-fortunate children or help at a holiday dinner for the needy.
7. Consider investing in your children's future by starting a savings account or contribution to a college tuition fund.
8. The gift of time is timeless.
9. A gift doesn't have to have a big price tag. For example, a slideshow, DVD or scrapbook of photos, videos and mementos of times spent with loved ones and friends is priceless.