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Financial Advisor: Don’t “Shop Till You Drop”

November 23, 2007

Minneapolis, MN – The day after Thanksgiving is traditionally opening day of the holiday shopping season. A number of stores across Minnesota even got a jump-start this year, opening their doors early. Financial advisor Darryl Dahlheimer says some shoppers' hearts are bigger than their pocketbooks, and he has some tips to avoid blowing your budget.

"Holidays are times when it's really easy to get in trouble with overspending, and then you have a 'debt hangover' the whole next year. Plan for how much you can spend, and go armed with a plan to make it the best Christmas ever."

Dahlheimer suggests drawing up a list of reasonably-priced items, and sticking to it. He also warns that overspending on gifts has at least one unexpected side effect: the post-holiday blues.

"People feel really stressed when they take out debt. Having to pay it back means you're paying interest, so you pay and pay and pay. It can run into pressures like late fees and collection calls. Having a worry-free holiday giving plan means spending what you can afford. Or, if you're going to take out debt, know how to pay it back and have a firm debt-repayment plan."

Other ways to avoid overspending: Be sure everything on the gift list is affordable. Comparison shop, avoid impulse buys, and ignore the avalanche of holiday ads and sales pitches. One interesting option is to check out the "Scrooge-O-Meter," an online gift spending calculator based on your income, at www.lssmn.org/debt/scroogecalculator.

Making your own gifts is another good option. Dahlheimer says gifts with a personal touch, something home-baked or handmade, often have the most meaning. The National Retail Federation predicts shoppers will spend an average $923 this season, almost four percent more than last year.

Jim Wishner/John Robinson, Public News Service - MN