When it comes to holiday spending, people should follow Santa’s example and make a list and check it twice, says a West Virginia University accounting professor.

They should then do the Jolly Old Elf one better and never sway from the list to avoid spending beyond their means, said Adolph Neidermeyer, whose teaching and research areas include personal financial planning.

“Prepare an overall gift spending and charitablegiving budgetand stick to it,”Neidermeyer advised.”Shop with a list and don’t go off the list. Impulse purchases will kill you.”

In developing a budget, Neidermeyer said people should look at how much they spent last year on gifts and donations to determine if they need to adjust their level of spending.

“The reason for that is to determine if you had too much debt holdover from items bought on credit,”he said.”You may have told yourself you were not going to do that again, then an intervening nine months passed and you forgot.”Other spending recommendations:

  • If paying with cash, ask for a cash discount. Some small retailers will agree to this, inasmuch as they don’t incur administrative fees for processing credit cards.
  • When charging with credit cards, use cards with such benefits as cash back, airline miles or travel miles.
  • Finish shopping the weekend preceding Christmas to take advantage of last-minute sales.

Neidermeyer also said people should consider the needs of their own community first when giving to charity.”That’s where you live, and your primary allegiance is to the local community,”he said. Neidermeyer is available to talk to the media about holiday spending. He can be reached at 304-293-7841.