How to Manage Your Holiday Budget

November 9, 2010

The holidays are only a few paychecks away. Stores are already decorated with lighted trees, mistletoe and holly. Now is the time to set a budget for holiday shopping and stick to it, says Lou Scatigna, financial planner, author and radio host known as The Financial Physician.

His ideas on holiday budget planning can help save you save money and avoid tension during the holidays. Follow these tips before you head out shopping:

1.Realistically assess your current financial condition

2. Establish a budget and stick to it

3. Determine how much you are going to charge on credit cards

4. Discuss with your older children that times are tough and you can't spend as much this year

5. Use the internet to shop and to sell unwanted stuff. Great bargains can be found at online stores; you'll also beat the crowds, the parking and the long checkout lines, Scatigna says. Consider selling items that you no longer use and use the proceeds for new gifts. Selling old gifts online could be the best way to help fund holiday expenses, he adds.

6. Keep your gift -giving to immediate family. Those nieces, nephews, Aunts and Uncles can add up. They will understand, Scatigna says, because they are likely doing the same thing

7. Start shopping now, the longer you wait the more you will use credit cards. This will give you the time to search for sales and bargains, many retailers have already discounted prices. You will wind up using more cash and less credit because you're spreading your buying over several weeks.

8. Start a holiday club bank account so next year you will have the cash saved.

Be realistic about your finances
Decide how much to spend with credit cards
Talk to your children

Buy and sell online
Gifts for immediate family only
Shop now
Start saving for next year


THE FINANCIAL PHYSICIAN: How to Cure Your Money Problems and Boost Your Financial Health

Lou Scatigna knows that money worries don't start or end with the holidays, so he has some advice to get your finances on a healthy footing year 'round in his book The Financial Physician: How to Cure Your Money Problems and Boost Your Financial Health.

Do you know the difference between Good Credit and Bad Credit? How about between a Money Market Account and a Money Market Fund? When is an ARM preferable to a traditional 30-year mortgage? Take the Financial Illiteracy Quiz in Chapter One. Like filling out a medical history for your doctor, this quiz will gauge your financial health.

The Financial Physician doesn't treat the financial aspect of an individual's life as something distinct from the individual. The way we manage debt, credit, and our estates can have a direct influence on our physical heath, the central relationships in our lives, and our happiness, Scatigna says. The stresses and pressures both of managing wealth incorrectly and of wondering if you're making the best decisions can directly and adversely impact the one's welfare. The advice and guidance presented here is the proper nutrition and exercise for the financial self.

The Financial Physician is the Grey's Anatomy of financial books, according to Scatigna. It is a primer on wealth and investing, and a comprehensive resource for the beginner, intermediate, and advanced investor.

Can you distinguish between a solid opportunity and "Wall Street thievery"? Can you tell a qualified financial advisor from a hack? Is the vaunted Dow Jones Average really the best barometer of the stock market? Not knowing can ruin you, the author adds. In his book, Scatigna answers other financial questions including:

Planning for College? There are five great ways to save for a child's college education, but none of them can completely compensate for Failing To Plan For College Early).

Getting ready to buy a new car? Think of it as an investment. A straightforward plan can mean a difference of over $400,000 in personal wealth by not Wasting Money On A Lifetime Of Cars.

Buying a home? Observe these three guidelines, and you will have the home you want and be able to enjoy it. Avoid Buying Too Much House.

Planning a comfortable retirement? Woven through virtually every chapter of the book are countless tips on building and safeguarding wealth, but Not Downsizing In Retirement can prevent you from enjoying a rich, stimulating life.

New in the work force? Ah to be young and energetic...and smart. The Financial Physician can lay the foundation for a secure, prosperous life. Financial Illiteracy through to Not Knowing What Wealth Really Is, provides lesson after compelling lesson. The earlier one starts, the better their life can be.

Having money problems? Physical ill health stems from neglect and poor life style choices. Scatigna details how this is precisely the case with financial ill health. Being Financially Irresponsible, Feelings Of Material Entitlement, and Failing To Understand Your Financial Psychology explain how money troubles arise.

Ready to take on Wall Street? Lou bookends his cautionary Trusting Wall Street Has Your Best Interests At Heart, with two sage pieces of advice: "When you deal with Wall Street, the deck is stacked against you", and "Wall Street doesn't work for anyone but itself and the Almighty Dollar." Forewarned is forearmed.

Who wears the financial pants in the family? One source of serious financial problems and of unnecessary domestic strife is Lack Of Spousal Teamwork. Men tend to be gamblers and focused on the short term. Women are more grounded and conservative.

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