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Make That List, Check It Twice

With the holidays coming soon, it's time to make a list and check it twice - a shopping budget list, that is.

People may argue about whether or not it's too early to start Christmas shopping, but experts agree it's time to set a budget.

Making the Most
Of the Holi-daze
A recent survey showed that only 34 percent, or about one-third of shoppers, set any holiday shopping budget before going out to shop, reports Mary Civiello of CBS Station WCBS-TV in New York.
Managing Your Money
Sally Lee, the editor of Parents magazine, says it's well worth the effort to write up a shopping budget. "It will save your budget and your sanity," Lee says.

Lee recommends coming up with a list that includes alternatives if you can't find that Spice Girls gizmo or other hot toy. Try to pay in cash or limit yourself to using two credit cards. Start to shop yesterday to get the best deals.

Lee also says you should avoid getting hung up on the last-minute "did I buy enough" syndrome. "If you don't feel you put enough effort into the gift, wrap it in a wonderful way or hand-make a card. But don't spend another $50," she advises.

Civiello offers this advice: While you're thinking about budgets, make up a budget for 1999 as well. Examine what you've been spending monthly and what you'll likely be spending next year. Take off the rose-colored glasses. Be conservative when you're thinking about the year ahead. Don't count on one thing coming in or on the stock market.

Pat Curran, a consumer educator for Metlife, says, "Ideally you want to save 10 percent of your take-home pay. If you can't, be realistic and that way you'll achieve your goals slowly but you'll get there."

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