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Budget-setting a good idea for holiday shoppers

Nov. 30, 1999



The biggest shopping day of the year has passed, and though the malls have a little more space, shoppers' checkbooks are tight after making their purchases.

'People obviously do a lot of really silly things during Christmas time, and they don't look at the long run,' said Dr. J. Franklin Potts, associate professor of finance, insurance and real estate. 'Any money that you spend today is going to affect your future consumption patterns.'

For some people, Christmas shopping is a quick process, but for others, buying that perfect Christmas gift requires much consideration and deliberation.

'A lot of times people get emotionally carried away and spend amounts they really can't afford,' Potts said, and added that this happens especially in boyfriend/girlfriend relationships.

However, there is a way to avoid overspending when holiday shopping.

'Budget your income throughout the year. . . Look at all your expenses starting with those that are fixed. Then you look at what you have left over to cover your variable expenses such as gifts,' Potts said.

Some students have other ideas to shop efficiently and save.

'If you plan ahead for what you want to get people, you can work it into your budget appropriately,' said Lisa Knarr, a Carrollton senior. 'Keep your eye open for bargains year round. If you buy something for [someone] that is on sale in August, then you won't have to pay full price for it while Christmas shopping.'

Budgeting for holiday shopping can be difficult for college students, though.

'[Students] have grown up in the consumer environment,' Potts said. 'Most young people don't know what a tight-money period is.'

Whether students have the saving mind set instilled in them from their parents or they are not familiar with saving at all, the following tips could be beneficial during this holiday shopping season.

Potts said students should only use credit cards if they know they will be able to pay them off when the bill comes. He also advised students who come from big families to draw names so that in a family of six, for example, they only have to buy one gift.

Researching sales fliers and prices is also a tactic to spending within a budget.

'When looking at advertisements in well-known newspapers or magazines, never assume they are legitimate,' Potts said.

Students should also plan to pay with cash or a debit card, thus avoiding running up a credit card balance.

'Credit card debt is growing year after year,' Potts said.