How to avoid the post-Christmas financial hangover

December 06, 2004|JOHN T. DAVIS

For many people, the euphoria of the Christmas shopping season is marred by the agony of the debt-paying season that follows.

Ed Ensslin of Danville, an experienced financial counselor and a follower of popular author and talk-show host Dave Ramsey of "I'm Debt-Free" fame, has a few helpful hints for people who want to enjoy their gift-buying and gift-giving without suffering a financial hangover afterward:

* First and foremost, Ensslin said, "just determine how much you can afford to spend. Use a debit card or cash. Leave the credit cards at home or, better yet, cut them up and get rid of them.

* Second, Ensslin said, "when you determine how much you can spend, make a Christmas list budget and put a dollar amount beside every name on your list. Gift cards and gift certificates are excellent way to stay on budget because you can purchase them for the exact amount you want to spend."


Difficulties arise for shoppers trying to stay within a budget when the sweater they had planned to purchase for $20 turns out to cost $50 instead, he said.

* Another trap all too many people fall into is buying something for themselves while they are out doing their Christmas shopping. "You need to put the blinders on and stick to that list. It's like being on a diet ..."

* Ensslin also recommends that people start planning "right now" for Christmas next year by putting aside something every week. "Christmas always comes at the same time every year and people are always surprised," he said.

* Ensslin also has a suggestion for what to do about gifts for people who "have everything."

"We all have people on our list who are hard to buy for because they have everything. Make a contribution to charity in their name and ask them to do the same thing for you," he suggested. "You can control your spending and at the end of the day, you'll feel better about your Christmas giving."

* Finally, for people on a really tight budget, "don't overlook the possibility of homemade items or baked goods as gifts," Ensslin said. "Gifts like that are as well-received as a store-bought gift."

Central Kentucky News Articles