Make the Most of Your Holiday Budget

No matter what holiday you celebrate, you may have mixed feelings about the approaching season.  While you look forward to quality time with family and friends, concerns about budget are intensified during the holiday season.

Part of many holiday traditions may include family gatherings, decorations, and gift giving.  Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your time and money.

  • Decide How Much You Can Spend.  Set your holiday budget before you go near a store.  Don’t overlook the extras including postage for cards, home decorations, gift wrap, and the cost of boarding a pet if you are traveling.
  • Make A List and Check It Twice.  Go over the list and decide how much you can spend on each person.  Don’t have enough money in the budget to cover the list?  Go through it again and cut names or amounts.  Focus on the amount you will spend, not what you’ll buy.
  • Pay Cash.  If you know you’ve had trouble in past years paying off after-holiday debt, do a cash-only holiday.  Set a limit, take that money out of your credit union or bank, and when the money is gone, it’s over.
  • Think of Credit Cards as Short-Term Loans.  Ideally, you should pay everything off immediately.  If that’s not feasible, always use the card that offers the lowest interest rate.
  • Allow Enough Time for Your Holiday Preparations.  Avoid running out for a last minute gift and having to pay top dollar.  Whether you are shopping, baking, or wrapping presents to send cross country, planning ahead and budgeting your time wisely can save you time, money, and energy.
  • Don’t Overlook Other Options.  If you want to give someone a gift, but don’t have the money, consider baking an extra batch of cookies while you are making them for your own family.  Offer to baby-sit for a busy mother, walk the dog, or take an elderly relative for an outing. The cost is next to nothing, but your gift is priceless.  Books, recipe books, calendars, and small food baskets containing a jar of homemade jelly, freshly baked bread, a plate of cookies, candies, or a combination of foods you’ve made and divided up all make ideal gifts for present exchanges, neighbors, paperboys, babysitters, etc. Consider sending e-cards.  They’re free, don’t require postage, some even play music, making them a fun way to catch up with far-away family and friends.

If you would like further information on managing your holiday budget, or to speak with an EAP counselor, please contact your confidential Employee Assistance Program at 303-982-0377 or visit our website at  Your EAP offers no-cost assistance to all Jeffco Public Schools employees, their family members over age 15, and retirees.  “Confidential help from caring professionals…”