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Budgeting for the holidays now can save you financial hardship later

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(Source: 123RF) (Source: 123RF)
Kelsa Dickey, a financial coach here in the Valley, suggests you make a list of all of your holiday expenses and use cash to help you stick to your budget. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Kelsa Dickey, a financial coach here in the Valley, suggests you make a list of all of your holiday expenses and use cash to help you stick to your budget. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

The holiday shopping season is around the corner, which means it's time to start thinking about what can you do to stay on track financially so you don't go into debt.

“There was a study recently that said 45 percent of people would rather skip the holidays altogether,” according to Kelsa Dickey, a financial coach here in the Valley. The reason, she says, is money issues.

“It is making people go into debt a lot of time, which is really sad," she said. "So, you start the new year -- the new year is right after the holidays -- and you have this hole to climb out of.”

So, what can you do to avoid potential money problems this holiday season? Dickey suggests you need to create a list and a budget.

“So, the first step is to make a list, and most people will include the people that they buy for and about how much they want to spend," she explained.

When creating that list, Dickey recommends going a step further and include any and all additional expenses that come with the holidays. Once everything is on paper, it all because crystal clear.

[RELATED: Are you a "yo-yo" debtor?]

“Gifts for your co-workers, stocking stuffers, wrapping paper -- there's a whole bunch of expenses that go into the holidays besides just the gifts we buy for other people.”

Dickey also suggests you assign a designated amount to each gift and then add it up.

[RELATED: 9 holiday expenses that are easy to forget]

“The next step is to look at the total. And I think this is the step that most people skip, where they don't realize how $15 here and $20 there can really add up to be a big number.”

Dickey also suggests you designate specific shopping days. 

[WATCH: Holiday budget hacks from financial expert Chris Hogan]

“Give yourself a day where you're gonna go just shop for Christmas gifts and only buy Christmas gifts," she explained. "It makes it easy to see, 'I've spent $200 so far,' or, 'I've spent $180 so far.'”

And when it comes to shopping, cash is king. Forget your credit card, which can make your shopping get out of control. If you have a set amount of cash to spend, you're more likely to stay within your budget.

[RELATED: 8 holiday spending mistakes to cross off your list]

By the way, the average American will spend about $700 on holiday gifts. Just remember, only spend what you can afford and don't let emotions take control. Once you let emotions take over, you've already lost.   

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Gary HarperGary Harper is the senior consumer and investigative reporter for 3 On Your Side at KTVK-TV.

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Gary Harper
3 On Your Side

With more than 20 years of television experience, Gary has established himself as a leader in the industry when it comes to assisting viewers and resolving their consumer-related issues. His passion and enthusiasm have helped him earn an Emmy for Best Consumer Reporter from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He’s also garnered several Emmy nominations

He has negotiated resolutions with companies of all sizes, including some of the biggest corporations in the nation.

Gary has successfully recouped more than $1 million for viewers around the state, making 3 On Your Side one of the most popular segments on KTVK and the station's Web site.

He's best known for investigating and confronting unscrupulous contractors. In fact, many of his news reports have led to police investigations and jail time for those who were caught. Viewers, as well as the companies and people he investigates, regard him as consistently being thorough and fair.

Gary has been with KTVK-TV since 1997. Prior to his arrival in Phoenix, he worked for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was as an anchor and reporter.

Gary is from Chicago, but launched his television career in Lubbock, Texas, after earning a broadcast journalism degree from Texas Tech University. Following his graduation, he was quickly hired by KLBK-TV in Lubbock, where he enterprised and broke numerous exclusive reports. His aggressive reporting in Texas helped garner him Best Reporter by the Associated Press.

Gary has been married since 1994 and is the proud father of two sons. When he's not helping viewers, Gary is busy catching up on his favorite college and professional football teams as well as cheering on his beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders.

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