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High inflation and the holidays: How to navigate the most expensive time of the year

With Halloween, Thanksgiving and the ensuing holidays coming up, the next three months will be expensive, but experts say a budget will keep you on track.

MINNEAPOLIS — We are now moving into the most expensive time of the year.

First, we have Halloween, bringing with it candy, decorations and costumes.

Then there's Thanksgiving dinner. Up next are the ensuing holidays, which encompass decorations and presents. It's a lot.

Shannon Doyle is a financial educator with Lutheran Social Service. She's already hearing from clients who are worried about the holidays.

"It's stressful, right? I mean, we're already feeling the crunch,” Doyle says.

“Sometimes we do that spending out of guilt or out of obligation and those two emotions can be huge drivers for overspending.”

She says now's the time to create a budget, or at least set limits for how much you want to spend on each holiday.

And when it comes to gift giving, it's time to have a conversation about how much you're willing to spend.

"If you are feeling some pain in your budget these days, it's very likely your friends and family members are too,” Doyle says.

There's a lot of pressure to find that perfect gift, but Doyle often tells clients the story of how she once asked her daughter if she remembered what she got for Christmas last year.

"And she didn't. What she did remember was all the traditions we have, friends and family coming over, the games, and the food, that’s what she remembers about the holidays each year.”

Doyle says surveys have shown that the average adult spends around $700 on holiday gifts, so you can save a lot by cutting back, but she says people also spend an additional $300 on decorations and food.

"It really can add up quickly,” Doyle says. “There’s a lot of room there to cut back and save.”

Cutting out a decoration here and there, or reusing gift bags instead of wrapping paper can save you a few dollars, dollars you won't have to put on your credit card.

"I'm not saying don't use your credit cards, but think about the interest rates continuing to go up and how much is that going to cost you in the long run."

If you do rack up some credit card debt over the holidays, Doyle says there are resources out there.

At Lutheran Social Service they have programs and guides to help you get out of debt.

And there are other groups out there that can also help.

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