Finance Expert’s Tips Can Keep Holiday Spending in Check

Jared PIckens

Jared Pickens, personal finance expert and faculty member.

Jared Pickens, a personal finance expert and finance faculty member at UT Dallas, says a little budget sense can help keep the holiday cheer alive even after the first bills come in.

He offers the following budget tips:

Lose the Plastic

When it comes to holiday shopping, lose the plastic, Pickens said.

“Statistics show that the majority of individuals who use credit cards for gifts still owe balances a year later,” he said.

Instead, he recommends shoppers use December as a time to set up holiday savings accounts for next year.

Credit Cards image


“Start in January, 2013 and deposit a small amount each month so you aren’t panicked when December rolls around,” he said. “This will reduce the stress on your wallet, too.”

Gift Ideas That Won’t Break the Bank

Staying realistic about budgets and avoiding the temptation of overspending is easier than most consumers realize, Pickens said.

“Set aside a certain amount of money dedicated to holiday expenses,” he said. “The best route is to purchase gift cards – the denominations can be low or high, and they never disappoint.”

Handmade and pre-owned items are another great way to give thoughtful gifts and save some cash.

Charitable Donations Made Easy

Wrapped package


Many people want to donate money at the end of the year but aren’t sure where to turn. There is a financial tool called a Donor Advised Fund just for this situation, Pickens suggests.

“This is an investment account where a person can drop a small or large sum of money during the 2012 taxable year and get the deductions now,” he said. “Later down the road, you can ask the fund to send checks to charities of your choice.”

For Great Gifts, Think Outside the Store

For gift ideas with a longer shelf life than toys and gadgets, think outside the store.

Pickens says money deposits into a child’s education fund are a great way to get started.

“Investing in the future of your loved one is a great gift with enormous impact on the rest of their lives,” he said.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].