Holiday Spending Plan

 

As the summer comes to yet another close, swiftly approaching is the holiday season. Have you started planning yet? Well… if not, you likely aren’t alone.  In less than 3 months a busy schedule lies ahead; Family gatherings and visiting relatives, attending parties and potlucks, entertaining the kids while they are eagerly home from school, and of course… shopping.  This should be the time of year to enjoy, and with the right planning, of both your time and your finances, you can have a great holiday season!

Like most successful endeavors, this will start with a detailed plan. Ideally this should happen earlier in the year; whether you are putting money aside in a savings club, or purchasing gifts intermittently throughout the year.  Perhaps that wasn’t the case this year but don't worry! You can still have a great holiday season if you focus your attention on these 5 specific recommendations and tips to maximize your dollars:

Make a list, and check it twice. Determine the amount you want to spend on each and every person, no matter the price of the gift. Carry the gift list with you so you can keep track of your purchases. This will help to limit your purchases to what you initially planned and eliminate any impulse spending. Don’t give in to discounts and sales if it means you will go over your allotted budget. 

Tame your expectations. This does not mean you have to sacrifice or leave people off your gift list, but more of in-depth look at your current personal financial situation to see what you can comfortably afford. Perhaps you have to reduce the amount you normally spend on your children, your spouse, or your best friend.  You shouldn’t feel bad, as almost certainly your loved ones wouldn’t want you feeling unnecessary financial distress over a few gifts.  If you have children, you can also use this as an educational experience by helping them better understand the importance of family budgeting.

Get creative. Nothing is better than receiving a gift that someone put thought and effort into, and the best way to create that gift could be by making it yourself. This could be artwork, pottery, custom-made playlists, photo albums, or something sweet you whipped up in the kitchen. You could also simply spend quality time with a person by treating them to a concert, ball game, or a movie.  And never forget the emotional value of a hand written note or card.

Shop around.  There are many ways that you can shop in order to save money. If you are comfortable shopping online, you can often find great value through sales or online coupon sites such as Groupon.com.  If you feel it would be worth investing the time and potentially testing your patience to the limits, Black Friday and Cyber Monday could be great opportunities to net big savings. Keep an eye out for sales year round and take advantage…But only if it’s on your list. 

Don’t overextend yourself.  While you may be sticking to your list, you still need to make sure you are spending wisely. Pay with cash as much as possible, and if you absolutely have to use credit, limit to only one card. You don’t want to worry about paying off your past purchases into the following summer, as this could be the time that you are planning for the next holiday season!

Now and go out and execute your plan, and have yourself a wonderful holiday season!

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