Determine gift-giving budget before the holiday shopping season begins |

Determine gift-giving budget before the holiday shopping season begins

LINCOLN, Neb. – Holiday shopping can prove challenging to the pocketbook, and the down economy may make it even more so this year.

There are ways, however, that financially struggling families can survive the holiday shopping season without too big of a strain on their budgets, said University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension family economics specialist Kathleen Prochaska-Cue.

“It’s easy to get caught up in the spend, spend, spend spirit of the holiday,” said Prochaska-Cue, explaining that regular expenses should be calculated and gift-giving budgets set.

Extension has several money-saving and budget-setting tips at its Managing Tough Times Web site at The site provides users with information in several topic areas, including money-saving ideas, family and relationships, home and food, livestock and crop production and education and opportunities. The site archives extension publications, news releases and other materials, and new material is added regularly.

The first step in controlling holiday spending is writing down the names of the people you want to give gifts, she said. Then decide whether you have to give gifts to all of them. In some cases, you may be able to agree with some on the list to mutually cease gift giving this year. For those you definitely decide to give gifts to, set a spending limit per person.

People often use credit cards when buying gifts, but before pulling out the plastic make a decision.

“Look at your credit card debt and decide how much you want to add to it,” she said. “Write down that figure.”

Prochaska-Cue suggests taking the paper that contains the figure and wrapping it around the credit card. Each time you use your credit card you will see that paper, which will remind you the limit you set on credit card purchases.

Rather than buying gifts for everyone in the immediate family, a family can decide as a whole to have a family gift. A family gift could consist of a mini-vacation or buying something the family wants. It could be as simple as taking a day and doing something fun.

Another option is celebrating the holiday in a charitable way. Give your time and talents to a charitable organization, or have the family buy gifts for a needy family instead of for each other.

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