The holidays can be a wonderful excuse to spend time with family. But it's also steeped in marketing efforts to get you to spend all your income on gifts you truly can't afford.
It's easy to be drawn into the bargains and advertising that crowd the stores this time of year. But financial experts say, it's not worth it.
"Know if you're planning for gifts, what you want to get and how much you want to spend and stick to it," says Sarah Priest of Community Action Duluth.
Planning ahead is key in avoiding trouble this shopping season.
"Leave your cards at home, use cash only, set a budget limit and stick to that budget," says Elaina Johannessen of Lutheran Social Service.
Cash will be critical to your budgeting success.
"If you use cash, then basically you spend what you have. If you use credit, you are spending something that likely you don't have," says Elaina.
If you don't have the option to ditch the plastic, pay it off immediately.
But also be careful of fraud. Only give your card number over the phone when you have made the call.
"Always think that you have to be the person that initiates that contact," says Priest.
And online, look for the "s" after "http" to ensure it is a secure site.
And lastly, check your credit report after your spending purge to make sure you have not been a victim of fraud.
For holiday budgeting help, or if you are already in debt and need free assistance, contact Lutheran Social Service at (218) 529-2222