The holiday shopping season is quickly arriving. It is a time where many spend hundreds of dollars buying gifts for their loved ones. It is projected that in 2019, holiday spending will exceed 1 trillion dollars. For the average adult, that will be about $920 per person. As we enter the holiday season, I would like to offer a few financial tips to help you along the way.
- Establish a spending plan. You may or may not be living on a monthly spending plan or budget. Regardless, you need a spending plan for the holidays. The starting point is prioritizing and finding out how much disposable income you have available. Once that is determined, know your limit and stick to it.
- Make a list of who will receive a gift. Family, friends, co-workers — you can think of many people in your life that you would like to give gifts. Remember your spending limit and then make a list on how much money you plan to spend on each person. Keep in mind, you can always recognize someone without buying a gift. Some of the best gifts don’t cost anything at all.
- Set limits on how much you will spend on gifts. It is the thought that counts. Some of my most precious gifts didn’t have a high dollar value. It was the thought and meaning behind the gift. When it comes to social gatherings and gift exchanges, set limits up front and stick to them.
- Talk about gift expectations/limitations. When I first graduated from college, I had a limited amount of money. Although I would have liked to buy more expensive gifts, it just wasn’t possible at the time. Also, as the immediate family continued to grow with nieces and nephews the number of gifts also increased. Talking about gift expectations up front can help you and your friends and family.
- Consider home-cooked meals over eating out. It is cheaper to eat at home. Adding holiday shopping to your already busy schedule often means eating out, but it also costs more money. A family of four can easily spend $60-$80 eating out at one meal. This adds up quickly. Make cooking at home a family bonding time by cooking everyone’s favorite meals together to save.
- Don’t be fooled by the sale. We are already seeing the special holiday sales. It is tempting to buy things you don’t need, just because you can get a good price. Remember to stick to your spending plan and set your limits. The specials can add up quickly.
- Compare prices. It is almost ironic to bring this up after being warned about sales. Keep in mind that stores try to lure you in with special savings. Take advantage of the discount offer, but also compare prices. Getting the best price is like putting money back into your pocket.
Hopefully, these strategies will take some of the stress out of the holiday season and keep money in your pocket at the same time. Enjoy time with your family, friends, and co-workers and stay financially fit in the process. If you are looking for more information, visit the CFPB website.