The Dreaded Budget

December 5, 2010

I read in a book recently that the only word likely to be more hated than the word “diet” in the English language is budget. The book discusses shopping on a budget and includes tips such as planning ahead, setting goals, making a list, comparing prices, and remaining flexible.*

While the tips above are related to shopping for groceries, I wonder how many of us apply the same logic to Christmas shopping. I would imagine, with the number of purchases beginning on black Friday and continuing through Christmas, many people find themselves with a debt beyond comprehension by January 1. A 2009 article on says credit counselors see a surge in late January through early February.** So how do you avoid the post-Christmas buyer’s remorse?

Maybe a budget is the perfect solution. Gerri Detweiler, a frequently referenced credit advisor, points out in a January 2010 blog post that the iPhone has a budget app,*** and I’m sure there are similar apps for other phones. I would assume these apps and other available budget programs make it a little easier to keep track of your income and your outgo (as I like to call it).

So how do you stay within a budget when Christmas shopping? I would imagine in much the same way you do (or could!) when grocery shopping. Make a list of the people you want to buy for and what you want to get them. Compare prices at stores and online. Remain flexible – if you can’t find exactly what you wanted to buy, be creative. With sites like Groupon (, coupons are pretty much always available and can be a great way to get fun gifts at a lower cost. 

This year, instead of dreading the debt to come, set yourself a budget and see what happens. Between the deals you get and the money you save, you might surprise yourself and actually like it!

Word of the Week: Budget

Word to the Wise: “For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.”  2 Corinthians 8:12

Disclaimer: I encourage the use of a budget. However, I am no better at creating a budget and sticking to it than anyone else. Let me know if it works for you, and maybe I will try it. Also, I make no claims that the websites specifically listed in this blog are any better than any other websites available to you. Use your best judgment when searching for deals.

*Nelson, Stephanie. The Coupon Mom’s Guide to Cutting Your Grocery Bills in Half. Penguin: New York, 2009.
**Chang, Althea. “Avoid Black Friday Debt.” November 2009.
***Detweiller, Gerri. “New Free Budget Tool iPhone App.” Gerri Detweiller’s Consumer Alerts. January 2010.


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