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November 23, 2015

5 ways to 'shop smart' during the holidays

Media Contact: Allison Sandve, University of Minnesota Extension, office 612-626-4077,; Mary Jo Katras, University of Minnesota Extension, mobile 612-203-6403,

ST. PAUL, Minn. (11/23/2015)--Families can come through the holiday shopping season with their finances intact by approaching their purchases with simple guidelines.

“For many people, shopping and Black Friday are customary fun with family and friends,” said Mary Jo Katras, University of Minnesota Extension family resiliency program leader. “It’s important for families to remember that the basics of family finances are just as relevant during the holidays as they for the rest of the year.”

Here are five shopping-savvy tips to help keep holidays affordable and less prone to stress:

1. Go into holiday spending with a budget and stick to it. It may seem obvious, Katras said, but ignoring a budget is a common – and guaranteed – way to wind up with regrets. (This information also is available at

2. Do your homework. Reading the fine print on coupons can help prevent exasperation and an unintended hit on the pocketbook. Compare costs before leaving home. Ask yourself: Is the time I’ll be spending in line worth it?

3. Just as budgeting isn’t solely a holiday task, talking with youth about financial decision-making shouldn’t be a holidays-only conversation. Use holiday spending as a way to start the “money conversation.” Honest discussions also can help manage expectations. (This information is also available at

4. Spend cash only. Setting a fixed amount – and sticking with it – helps families stay within budgets. Or, only use a debit card for holiday gifts and budget a set amount.

5. Be tech-safe. We’re more vulnerable to online theft during the holidays. For instance, internet thieves take advantage of busier online traffic by using “sniffing” technology, allowing them to steal credit card information being used on unsecured sites or wi-fi connections. Follow simple steps to keep information safe online. (This information is also available at

“When it comes to gift-giving, it really is the thought that matters for most people. The holidays can be a great time for families to make gifts together or start or renew a family tradition that focuses on something other than spending,” Katras says.


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Media Contact: Allison Sandve, U of M Extension, (612) 626-4077,

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