Holiday Spending Budgeting Tips offers 5 tips to salvage holiday budgets

SAN MATEO, Calif., Dec. 6, 2006 - Over the weekend following Thanksgiving, consumers spent about $14.7 billion in nationwide retail outlets, a 3.4 percent increase over spending a year ago. But now that frantic deal-searching is over, according to co-CEO Brad Stroh, holiday shoppers have a chance to refocus their gift-buying plan -- and salvage their budget if they're on the brink of overspending. "To avoid overspending at the holidays, a budget is crucial," Stroh said. "Sticking to that budget, and your intended gift list, can require more willpower than losing 10 pounds. But with a few pointers, you can keep your spending in check." His suggestions included:

  1. Give what YOU can afford. "Do not give a gift equal to what your sister-in-law gave you last year, enough presents to make a ski-slope-sized pile under the tree, or whatever unrealistic measure might be luring you toward overspending," Stroh cautioned. "Give reasonably, with a generous smile."
  2. Don't spend more than can be paid off in a month or two. "If you can't pay off the bills until June -- well, by then the toys will be broken and half the perfume used," said Stroh. He suggests an incentive for restraint: "Visualize yourself writing checks for months to come."
  3. Take inventory first. Scour closets, under the bed or anywhere early purchases might be stashed and forgotten. "Check to see if you stocked up at last year's post-holiday sales before rushing out to buy now."
  4. Embrace the inner procrastinator. Late shoppers should not buy more to make up for lack of planning. "Take a deep breath and remember a gift is a gift, no matter how late it was purchased," advised Stroh.
  5. If all else fails, give a gift card. Gift cards are useful for almost any store, they fit within a specific budget, and they help givers stop with just one gift per recipient.

"Nothing is more important than protecting your financial well-being," Stroh added. "If you safeguard your budget, you'll sail through the holidays with a clear conscience -- and feel plenty of joy, now and in the New Year." Based in San Mateo, Calif., is a free one-stop online portal where consumers can educate themselves about complex personal finance issues and save money by choosing the best-value products and services. Since 2002,’s partner company, Freedom Financial Network, has provided consumer debt resolution services, serving more than 10,000 customers nationwide and managing more than $350 million in consumer debt. The company’s co-founders and CEOs, Andrew Housser and Brad Stroh, have been named Northern California finalists in Ernst & Young’s 2006 Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.