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How to Cope When You’ve Overspent on the Holidays

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For worried shoppers whose holiday enthusiasm may have pushed them beyond their financial limits, a University of Maine Cooperative Extension family budgeting specialist is available to offer advice.

With the holiday peak still a few days away, retailers are reporting record merchandise returns by gift-givers who have changed their minds. Buyer’s remorse over excessive impulse buying can be mitigated, however, says Cooperative Extension family budgeting expert Jane Conroy.

Before returning purchased gifts that consumers decide not to give, after all, Conroy says shoppers should be aware of store return policies, keep a list of purchases and hold onto a gift receipt for each. When returning an item, understand the reasonable expectations. “Do I want another item, do I want my money back, or a gift card?” she adds.

Another way to avoid overspending next year is to assess what was purchased that may not have been necessary. On other words, Conroy says, “How can I learn from what I did wrong this year? What can be changed in the future?”

For those looking at swollen credit card debt, Conroy advises that solid home budgeting and thinking about the difference between “need” and “want” can help consumers with hard decisions when it’s time to trim spending all the way around following the holiday season.

Conroy can be reached in the Piscataquis County Extension office in Dover-Foxcroft at (207) 564-3301, toll-free in Maine at 1-800-287-1491, or by e-mail:, to discuss what to get back on track with basic budgeting principles.

An Extension “Experts on Demand” YouTube video on gift giving and overindulgence featuring Extension child and family development specialist Leslie Forstadt also offers ideas for alternative gifts to and from the whole family.

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