(WEAU) - The Eau Claire County's Family Living Educator says more people are struggling with debt nowadays. But many of us don't know how much we're spending during the holidays.
Yet, she has a few suggestions on how to cut spending before Christmas time.
Pinching pennies is one thing the Long family is all too familiar with, because now they almost have $70,000 in debt due to medical bills.
"My poor wife, she's the only one working. She works as many hours as she can so we can make rent and electricity,” said CJ Long.
CJ is the owner and creator of Mimi's Cookies & Chef for a Night, but is forced to stay home, due to pain in his legs and arms, caused from his spine. Now, it’s a waiting game, because he’s still waiting for disability pay.
"I was born with a narrow spinal column, each one of my vertebrae are acting like a hair tie," said Long.
But a local Family Living Educator says you can stay on top of bills and manage your debt by making a payment plan.
"Just to see where your money's going what all your expenses all, everyone has got to sit down and do that,” said Dr. Julie Keown-Bomar, Family Living Educator at UW Extension.
There are even small things that can go a long way, like not going out to eat or not buying food or drinks at work.
“My wife and I have a big fire pit in the backyard, instead of running out for entertainment that way, had more fun getting a fire started and putting a radio in a window,” said Long.
Meanwhile CJ says after watching a documentarycalled "Chemerical,” his family now makes their own window cleaner and detergent.
"Bar soap, some borax, some washing powder, mix it up with 36 cups of water. It’s like pennies a load to do,” said Long.
CJ says he usually uses this 16 quart container to mix his laundry detergent, and right now half of its full and as you can see this will make about 60 loads of laundry and all it takes is about half a cup full."
Talking with creditors can also lower your interest rates, all you have to do is talk about your financial situation.
"Let them know you want to pay it down, you want to come up with a way to work it out," said Keown-Bomar.
Another suggestion is making baked goods as Christmas gifts or giving the gift of time to loved ones.
Click below if you need more help: