Many East Texans have felt the sting of the pandemic this year--even financially. And here we go into the holiday shopping season.

It is always tempting to blow your budget and overspend when there are so many cool things on which to spend money. Particularly so during the holiday gift-buying season. For so many people, straining and/or blowing the budget has almost become an accepted part of the year-end celebrations we all enjoy so much.

Perhaps there's no better time than this to make keeping your finances in order a priority and a gift you give yourself this year. That way, when January (and reality) rolls back around, you won't be feeling so bah-humbug.

Here a few things I do to try and keep things in check during times I'm particularly concerned I'll be facing lots of temptation to overspend and thus lose track of my financial health:

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Try to use actual cash when shopping. Oh believe me. I know this one is HARD. It's just such a temptation to pull out that plastic credit or debit card. The problem is, that one quick swipe is so convenient and feels so good. However, the fact that it is so easy is the problem. There's something about using actual cash that makes the transaction feel so much more official. You FEEL that you're spending money. So, consider taking out the cash you've budgeted for today's expenditure and see if that doesn't help curb the temptation a bit.

Be firm on the limits you set for gift-buying. It's practically inevitable. You've carefully outlined how much you can reasonably spend on gifts for each family member, dinners, parties, decorations. However, when you're caught up in the glitz of the happy moments, part of you just wants to say, "to heck with it, let's have fun." The problem is, we have to reconcile all of this in our bank accounts once the parties are over and the egg nog is gone. Don't add to the inevitable sugar headaches by adding financial strain on top of it all. It's not worth it.

Budget in some "fun money." So, this isn't about curbing and limiting the fun. It's about budgeting how much for each category so you know where that money is going. There's absolutely NOTHING wrong with having a line item in your budget for fun money--in fact, it's a good idea. You'll find that by budgeting for those spontaneous fun moments and extra purchases helps you enjoy them even more.

Ready for a few more ideas? has a helpful list of suggestions here. The article is several years old but the info is evergreen.

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