For many, the holidays are a tremendous financial burden. However, it is possible to get through the season without breaking the bank. Professional advice can be helpful, and with these four simple financial planning tips, it’s easy to stay on budget and still enjoy the most wonderful time of the year.
Make a List (and Check it Twice)
List all of the season’s holiday expenses, not just gifts. Travel, decorating, entertaining, and charitable giving all have costs associated with them. There can be hidden costs, too, like a higher electric bill for holiday lights and heater usage. Talk with the family about financial planning, and take the whole picture into account.
Set a Budget
Figure out a comfortable amount that leaves plenty of room for monthly expenses, and emergencies. Once the initial amount is set, break down that amount into the different categories (for example, 50 percent gifts, 20 percent entertaining, etc.). Additionally, setting a budget for all gifts, rather than per person, leaves some wiggle room and allows money to be distributed as needed.
Meaningful holiday gifts don’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Gifts handmade from the heart are always appreciated, as are locally sourced items and donations to a favorite charity. If it has to be something from a large retailer, shopping the sales and checking multiple prices online for the best deals is a good practice. It’s easy to get caught up in the sales hype; only buy gifts that fit in the budget!
The holidays come around every year, so planning ahead is a great way to ease the financial burden. Setting aside some money each month in a separate account ensures the money is there when December rolls around. Also, odds are, the same people are on the gift giving list each year, so take advantage of deals throughout the year instead of paying full price at the last minute. Purchasing gifts well in advance saves time, and leaves more leeway in the holiday budget.
These four simple tips should help to reduce stress and keep the holiday season happy! Financial planning is the responsible choice and sets a great example. After all, the spirit of the season is all about enjoying time together with family, not stressing about money.