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Make a piggy bank for holiday budget

With only 72 shopping days left until Christmas, most people might think it’s too late to start saving for toys to put under the tree.

Thursday, October 14, 1999

With only 72 shopping days left until Christmas, most people might think it’s too late to start saving for toys to put under the tree.

But any money saved that will decrease the amount charged on a credit card is worth the extra effort, said Jason Stephens, certified financial planner with Stephens and Son Insurance Agency.

"Most people will use their credit cards and wait until February and dread going to the mailbox to get that bill," Stephens said. "That’s bad, because you’re paying 18 percent interest on those bills. If you stay on a budget, you will know what you’re going to spend. If you’re able to spend cash for your purchases, you will be much better off."

Christmas planning really should start in January, however, Stephens added.

"It’s usually good to put a Christmas budget aside and save a little bit each month. Because you would already have money saved up, you wouldn’t have to borrow money to buy toys. By being in control of your money, you know how much you’re going to spend. And if you can’t afford to buy those nice toys, maybe there’s a better way to stay within your budget."

Layaway plans at department stores also can help the average shopper budget their finances, Stephens added.

"As long as there is not a percent interest on it, layaways are a good thing," he said. "It may not be as much fun as going on a shopping spree, but your finances will be much better."