Holiday Shopping - Looking Out for Your Wallet

With days left to go before Halloween, shoppers are already preparing for the Holiday gift buying season. The holidays often leave people in dire financial straits, but there are ways to help protect your finances through the season.

Our financial expert, Gail Cunningham, said the best way to prepare for the holidays is to plan a year in advance. "Add up all your expenses from the Holiday Season, and divide it by 10," she said. Cunningham said to save the amount of money you need over 10 months. By October, you will have a cash savings account with everything you need for the Holidays.

If you haven't done that, the best thing is to have a good plan. "Make a list just like Santa does, check it twice. Make sure that you need to be giving to all those people and write down not only what you want to find for them - the perfect gift for each person - but give yourself a budget and don't exceed that amount," she said.

Credit is an OK tool to use if you can afford to, said Cunningham. "But now layaway is back, and its back in a big way. I think that's a terrific tool for people to use to discipline themselves. They can go shopping now, find what they want and put it back," she said.

Regardless, Cunningham said to stick to your budget, and stick to your means. If you are living paycheck-to-paycheck, she said you need to be creative with your gift giving. "Give your loved one a coupon for services like you raking their leaves or babysitting," she said. "It is a no-cost way to show that you care," she said.

Paul Harrop, Newschannel 6