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Valley financial expert offers tips for holiday gift budgeting

(Getty Images Photo/Philip Pacheco)

PHOENIX — A Valley financial expert says it’s important to plan ahead for holiday spending to avoid starting the new year with debt.

“This is definitely the time of year when people are spending more than any other time of the year,” Jill Emanuel, financial coach with Fiscal Fitness Phoenix, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Cyber Monday.

She said the first thing to do is make a list of everyone to shop for and assign a dollar amount to each gift.

Don’t forget about gifts for Secret Santa, teachers and coworkers, as well as money for gift wrap and Christmas cards, she added.

“It helps tremendously to have everything in one place and see the full impact before you go out and start spending money and realize it after you’ve already spent,” Emanuel said.

She said while using credit cards responsibly can be advantageous this time of year for racking up rewards points, it can be a “slippery slope.”

“The caveat to that is that you need to have the money in the bank to be able to pay the credit card off right away,” she said.

If you need some extra cash flow, Emanuel recommended selling unused items on online platforms including Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist and OfferUp.

Also consider forgoing gifts to focus on spending time with loved ones, she said. Options include baking cookies together, watching a holiday movie or going to look at Christmas lights.

“Any number of different things that you can do to just create those special moments rather than spending can definitely lead to a more happy-feeling holiday, rather than coming out of it feeling stressed by overspending that happened,” Emanuel said.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ali Vetnar contributed to this report. 

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