Andrea Schmutz, USU Extension Assistant Professor
Has anyone ever told you to “beware of the camel’s nose”? Just the other day, as I was telling my teenage son about a situation and how I was planning to handle it, he looked at me and said very seriously, “Be careful mom, you’re letting the camel’s nose in the tent. Are you sure you want to do that?” His comment caught me off guard but his wisdom caused me to rethink my plan. He was referencing one of my favorite fables with a universal message that can be applied to almost any situation. As I pondered his response, I suddenly realized that the camel provides a great analogy for budgeting and spending habits, especially as we enter the winter holiday season.
In case you are not familiar with the story about the camel in the tent, or if it’s been a while since you’ve heard it, let me share it with you. As with any fable, there are many versions, but this one is my favorite:
Jerevie Canlas, Ph.D., CFLE
Whenever we teach a budgeting class, we always emphasize that there are five pieces to every budget. Every budget should have the following elements: Income, Expenses, Expense Limits, Tracking/Monitoring, and Review and Evaluate. When people budget, the first four elements are relatively straight forward. The last element, however, might be what makes or breaks your budgeting strategy.
Vincenza Vicari-Bentley, AFC
Empowering Financial Wellness Program Coordinator
Where are all my fellow spenders? (no offense to you savers)—you’re the yin to my yang!) At times being a spender works out perfectly for me. For example, when I’m putting together our monthly spending plan, I feel good about giving us permission to spend. But wait...there is a spouse I need to confer with about how we spend. So it’s important that you talk about money with your honey but not just once, it’s a continuous conversation.
Guest Contributor: Callie Ward
USU Extension Assistant Professor
Guys, it is WRESTLING SEASON at our house!! Wrestling was always big in my high school and with my family, and now with a son that loves it, the tradition continues. Like many sports or extracurriculars, wrestling has some cost associated with it: Registration / Team Fees, Uniform and Gear Costs, Tournament Registration, Travel, Concessions or food (This one is a HUGE cost!), Team Swag for the participant and the family support, Fundraisers (every parents favorite). These add up fast and so do the collection of team t-shirts too! (TIP: For a cheap and fun way to save your t-shirts here is a step by step guide for a t-shirt quilt.) As a parent, I can see the benefits of any kind of extracurriculars for my kids, physically, socially, and emotionally and make sure to plan for them each month within our budget. Researching how to save on this cost, I have come up with some tips to get you through the season:
Amanda H. Christensen, AFC
USU Extension Associate Professor; Utah Money Moms Editor
I know you've seen it...many retailers are already promoting Black Friday deals and will continue to bombard us with a barrage of ads all month long. I've already started to feel a little FOMO. But before we jump the gun and dive in to holiday spending in 2020, I'd recommend a few things to help us stay savvy shoppers this season.
Tip 1: Starting early can help you spread holiday costs out over a few months rather than everything hitting your bank account in December or January. This also helps with our efforts to give thoughtful gifts-which is always our intention-but sometimes we run out of time and simply pull the trigger on something less meaningful or more expensive than we'd have hoped. Start early, check things off your list and unplug from the holiday hub-ub to enjoy the reason for the season.
Tip 2: Create a holiday spending plan. Don't forget to include the gift exchange at work or any neighbor gifts you'd like to give out. Traditional activity's may have costs associated with them so don't forget that either. Once you've listed everything, set a per-person (or per activity, etc.) spending limit. I like to use a free app like Santa's Bag (or something similar) because it helps me easily track my per-person spending and visually shows me my progress. What a per-person spending limit does is helps me focus on getting the best bang for my buck within that spending limit.
Tip 3: Keep good records such that if an item you’ve purchased goes on sale at a better price later in the season, you can be a savvy consumer and return the item or ask for the difference in store credit. As for physical receipts, during the holiday season I make space for them in my coupon/gift card organizer that’s in my purse and always with me. Digital receipts can be difficult to track as they can get buried in your email. It’s as simple as creating a “Christmas 2020” email folder and dragging all online order confirmations into that folder.
Tip 4: A savvy consumer takes advantage of the sales and knows when to stop spending. The "good deals" will keep coming. We'll be bombarded all through December as well so once you've reached that per-person spending limit and checked everything off your list, be done. Unplug. Last-minute impulse buys can be budget busters! The sale season is only working for you if you don’t continue to buy, buy, buy.
TAKE A FREE CLASS!
Host a Class
Blog editor and Accredited Financial Counselor sharing real-life money smarts that can help you stay on track with financial goals while still enjoying life!
Follow the fun on Instagram
AS SEEN ON
1st Place National Award in Social Media Education from the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences
Gold Award in Blog Site category at the 7th annual Education Digital Marketing Awards.
Silver Award in New Media category at the 34th annual Educational Advertising Awards.
Platinum Award in Digital Media, Web Design category at the International Marketing and Communication Awards.