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NCU class focuses on maintaining holiday budget

With Christmas shopping underway for many people, Ashley Coplin, marketing specialist at Naheola Credit Union, presented a holiday budgeting class on Nov. 15 in Pennington to give shoppers the tools to not overspend this holiday season.

She first advised shoppers to plan ahead and think through the needs and wants of their holiday plans. Coplin reminded that traveling and eating expenses should also be included in the budget and should be considered a need, while a small gift for a neighbor would count as a want.

“I think a hard part for us all is the planning,” she said.

According to Coplin, many people may find this to be the hardest step because shoppers might remember someone along the way whose gift was not originally included in the budget.

“You realize that they’re other people in your life that you need to treat, and you need that in the budget, too,” she said.

She also said that 1.5 percent of annual income before taxes, which is recommended by financial education agency Clearpoint, is a good rule of thumb when coming up with a budget.

In order to not overspend, Coplin recommended considering hand-made gifts such as baked goods or hand-written notes of appreciation for non-family members.

She also warned against impulse purchases when holiday shopping and suggested planning shopping trips ahead of time based on upcoming sales to help stick to the budget. Other tips provided by Coplin include setting a spending limit with family and friends, starting a new holiday tradition like Secret Santa or spending quality time with loved ones in place of giving gifts.

Coplin said the most important reason for holiday budgeting is to ensure shoppers can pay bills and other expenses as normal once Christmas is over.

“After the end of the holiday season, you want to be able to continue on life as normal.”

(This article originally appeared in the Wednesday, December 5 issue of the Demopolis Times.)