Financial experts give tips on how to stay on-budget during the holidays

If you're looking to save and want to avoid any debt during the holiday season, experts say right now is the time to get started (SOURCE: KOLN.)
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - The holiday time is the season of giving, but it also ends up being the season of spending. According to financial experts, three in five people say they're willing to go into the red this holiday season.

Online sales and in-store deals during the holidays don't make it easy to save up. In fact, those factors make it even harder to actually stay in your budget. Even with all of the temptation going on, financial experts say there are some easy ways to control your spending.

Tip number one is to make a budget and hold your self accountable to sticking to it.

Chris Burns is a financial expert with Dynamic Money, and he says, "Knowing right now how much you're going to spend for the next two months really set[s] limits for yourself."

Experts say try not to spend more money than you've actually saved up for. One of the main things they warn people against doing is paying for gifts on credit cards.

Another thing they suggest is assigning a specific amount of money to each different spending category. They say this will keep you aware of how much you spend while you're shopping and will most likely stop you from going over that amount.

According to financial experts, people in older generations are less likely to go into the red than those of Generation X. They say that's because baby-boomers are more inclined to get creative with gifts and keep track of their purchases.

Financial experts say using a credit card can be one of the biggest mistakes during the holiday season. They say it doesn't help you stay realistic about how much you're actually spending. Experts suggest if you have high credit card balances already, sticking to cash and spending less can protect you from more debt.

They say another tip is to start your shopping early, "That's enough time to really make a plan and say this is what we have. And now let's go look at creative gifts now not three days before Christmas," says Burns.

By shopping way before the holiday stress starts to settle in, it gives you time to find quality items or to even make personal gifts yourself. Experts say having a plan for what you'd like to give each person tends to make your gifts better, rather than scrambling last minute for the perfect gift.

Another thing experts say to watch out for is store credit card offers. They say even though the thought is tempting, getting a store credit card when you're not planning to can potentially lead to holiday debt.

For some retailers, the holiday season can bring in as much as 30 percent of their annual sales, but to benefit your pockets, experts say you may want to think differently this year before you start hitting the stores and adding to your cart.

Some people say they're willing to fall into debt just to make their loved ones happy by buying gifts. Making gifts yourself can not only be more personal, but they can also save you some money. Financial experts say making sure the entire family is in on this year's budget can keep you in a safe spot, even after the holiday season is over. Chris Burns says, "What if you brought the family into it and said look, this is the amount of money we have. We can spend it on the next best gift for you, or we would also like to spend it as a family. What do you think about that?"

Experts say it's important to remember that spending less money on gifts doesn't make those gifts any less meaningful. They say you can use the time coming up with creative gift ideas and putting them together as a bonding experience for the entire family.