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7 Ways to Avoid Overspending This Holiday Season

avoid overspending

Having a financial plan is the key to avoiding overspending this holiday season, according to two finance professors at the University of Texas at Dallas. Finance professors Jeff Manzi and Randy Guttery say consumers should follow these simple steps as they complete their holiday purchases.

1. Construct a budget and stick with it. Go back and look at last year’s checkbook and receipts from holiday spending. Decide how much you want to spend this year, including holiday gifts, events and travel. Planning ahead allows you to look for bargains, coupons and offers like free shipping. Make sure to keep track as you spend.

Make a list and check it twice.

2. Be flexible and willing to trim your shopping list. Buy for families or couples, instead of individuals, or buy gifts for the children in your family, but not all the adults. Decide who and how much before heading to the stores.

4. Buy gifts online or purchase gift cards. If you shop online, you’re less tempted to impulse buy. Gift cards allow you to stick to your budget easier.

5. Pay with cash.  It’s always smarter to make purchases with cash you have available in your checking or savings account, rather than racking up debt and interest, even if you think you can pay it off immediately. Never take a cash advance against a credit card.

6. Keep it simple. Instead of spending money on a loved one, spend time with them. Go to a movie or out to lunch. Help your children create gifts or bake treats. Rather than hosting a lavish holiday party, ask everyone to bring a potluck dish and BYOB.

7. Look ahead to next year. Holiday spending comes every year, so don’t let it sneak up on you. Make a 12-month budget with a free app, such as Mint. See if your bank or credit union offers a Christmas club so you can put away money all year.

Good luck and happy shopping and saving!

Jeffery Manzi and Randy Guttery are clinical professors of finance and managerial economics at UT Dallas.

10 Tips for Taming your Winter Allergies

You wouldn’t think it but winter allergies can be as brutal as seasonal allergies during spring and winter. Usually though, they come from inside pollutants like poor ventilations, dust mites and other pests. Cockroaches, dust mites, dander, and mold can trigger cold-and flu-like symptoms, said immunologist Dr. Joan Lehach

Also, the frigid temperatures that keep us inside also expose us to indoor allergens capable of triggering a variety of cold and flu-like symptoms.

“If you experience more than nine days of continuing congestion, coughing, sneezing, watery eyes and nasal drip, chances are good that you are reacting to the presence of either dust mites, cockroaches, animal dander, or mold somewhere in your home, office or school,” said  Lehach, integrative medicine physician specializing in allergy, asthma and clinical immunology at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. “Many times, and especially in the inner city where populations are dense, all four of these allergens are present and must be addressed.”

Dr. Lehach offer tips for controlling your indoor allergy symptoms:

  1.     Mold inspection: The first step for controlling your allergy symptoms is to do a little inspection for mold inside the house. The most common places to find it are on shower curtains, wallpaper, carpets and the sink. Mold also grows in the drain, which can be cleaned with bleach and detergent. Your best bet to getting a thorough job done is to contact a mold removal service using an online platform like  Shoutwire, for example, for professional inspection and removal.
  2.    Cockroach hunt:  Studies have found cockroach allergens to be present in at least half of inner city homes and in nearly three-quarters of inner city schools.  Cockroaches do not have to be alive to trigger respiratory problems. Dust containing molecules of crushed carcasses can still cause problems for humans.  Professionals can be consulted to discover and clean out hidden colonies.  Nesting areas and pathways where cockroaches may have been traveling should be thoroughly cleaned.
  3. Dry up dust mites:  Keep your indoor humidity at 50 percent or lower, as higher humidity will breed dust mites.  A humidity gauge can be purchased for about $5.

4. Filter out animal dander: If you have a pet allergy,  you probably are going to need to be on allergy medications until you can consult with an allergist and see if you want to be desensitized or not. Meanwhile, a small HEPA air purifier placed in each room will keep airborne dander from spreading throughout the house. Mice or other fur-bearing pests living under the house or in the attic must be searched for and removed.

5. Get symptom relief:  A mixture of sinus-friendly Chinese herbs, like Rootology, can temporarily halt most allergy symptoms in less than 20 minutes. Rootology can also be used to control winter cold and flu symptoms.

6. Start an immune-building diet:  Eliminate foods that are weakening your immune system, like processed and packaged foods, and start eating immune boosting, allergy fighting foods, like blackberries and blueberries. Also important are multivitamin supplements and digestive enzymes to help you access more of the nutrients in the food you consume.

7. Get sufficient sleep:  Our immune system is very “sleep-driven”, and allergies are precipitated by weakened immunity.

8.  Stay hydrated:   When you become dehydrated you get dry nasal mucous and can develop microscopic cracks in the nasal lining, making it easier for allergens to enter your bloodstream.

9. Use the “hot” setting:  Wash your bedding in hot water (at least 130 degrees) to properly neutralize allergens.

10. Wash your face and hands:  Not only to maintain popularity with family, friends, and co-workers, but if there is dander, mold, or dust on your face or hands, chances are good that you will end up inhaling it.