With the holidays at hand, it can be easy to get caught up in the spirit – gift giving, eating out, entertaining, holiday cards, gift exchanges, and more. A little pre–planning and deciding what's important can give you a wonderful holiday season without breaking the bank.
This year, make a list of everyone you would normally buy gifts for. List each person and determine why you are giving a gift to each of these people. Are you giving because you truly want to – or is it because you feel you HAVE to? Are you giving an expensive gift when a card, phone call, or e–mail would do?
It's easy to get caught up in the holiday excitement when you're out shopping. This is especially true when you use a credit card. For work exchanges, talk with coworkers to see if a cookie exchange or pot-luck party may be a better idea. Share the joy of the season without all of the expense.
Decide whom you're going to give to ‐ your immediate family, closest friends, and anyone else you feel is an absolute must. Determine what each person on the list needs or wants, how much you plan to spend, and make a list. Start your shopping as soon as possible, search the Internet for the best prices, watch the sale papers, and spend wisely.
If you normally send cards to everyone you know, reconsider this year. Not sending cards is OK these days, especially with the rising cost of cards and postage. If you do send cards, send only to those to whom it means the most, such as close friends and family you won't be seeing. Maybe this year an e‐mail to update everyone on the events of the past year would be nicer. Or a phone call might mean even more.
Plan your holiday entertaining budget the same as you would your monthly budget. Make your shopping list and stick to it. Grocers run big sales all season long, so watch for discounted prices. And remember to buy only what's on your list.
Wrap up the year without going deep in debt by deciding who and what's important, making a budget, and sticking to it. But don't stop there. Start planning for next year by doing an in–depth review of your finances, beginning with the basics. Review and adjust your budget to ensure you're spending less than you bring home.
Some ways to save on your monthly expenses:
If you have the basics under control, it's easy to start planning for the future. This year may be the time to talk to a professional. Long–term planning will let you match your savings plan to your personal goals. Happy Holidays!
Jamie is a Human Capital Leader at Humana. She joined Humana in 2008 to lead the development of the "My Money, My Health, a Guide to Financial Fitness" program. She has 14 years' experience in financial services, human resources, and organizational development. Jamie has a BBA from Marshall University and an MBA from Point Park University.
Note: The information available in this article is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing financial advice. Financial recommendations are provided for illustrative purposes only. You’re responsible for verifying the accuracy and suitability of all assumptions and calculations. Please seek the advice of licensed or competent individuals before making any investment or financial planning decisions. Don’t rely solely on financial or retirement information found in e-PlanProfessor.
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