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Manage your money carefully during holiday season
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The holiday season can be joyous, hectic, celebratory — and expensive. While you probably enjoy hosting family gatherings and giving presents to your loved ones, you’ll find these things even more pleasurable if they don’t add a lot more weight to your debt load. That’s why you’ll want to follow some smart money-management techniques in the next few weeks.
Try to establish realistic budgets for entertaining and gift giving. When hosting family and friends, don’t go overboard on expenditures. Guests still will appreciate your  efforts, which, with a little creativity, can create a welcoming and fun experience for everyone.
As a guiding principal, keep in mind these words attributed to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the famous German poet and philosopher: “What you can do without, do without.” Set a budget and stick to it.
The same rule applies to gifting. You don’t need to find the most expensive presents or overwhelm recipients with the sheer volume of your gifts.
Furthermore, by sticking to a budget, you won’t be tempted to dip into your long-term investments to pay for fabulous parties or mountains of gifts.
If you can spread out your purchases, you may be able to pay for them from your normal cash flow. But if that’s not possible, you might want to consider “plastic” — your credit card. Just try to minimize your credit card usage over the holidays and pay off your card as soon as you can.
Of course, you can make your holiday season much easier, financially speaking, if you’ve set up a holiday fund to cover your various expenses. While it’s too late to set up such a fund this year, why not get an early start on the 2012 holiday season? All you need to do is put away some money each month into an easily accessible account, separate from your everyday accounts.
But for now, following some common-sense money-management practices can help you  get through the holiday season in  financial shape — and that type of result can get your new year off to a positive start.

Cardella is a consultant for Edward Jones in Hinesville.

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