October 3, 2017

Do you really need a “Holiday Financial Game Plan”?

What a title for a blog post referring to the “most wonderful time of the year”! Some people look forward all year-long to the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, most commonly known as the “Holiday Season”.  Whether they look forward to the parties, seasonal foods, or gift giving, it is the “most wonderful time of the year” that can financially exhaust you.  Being of mature age, I’ve used different plans throughout the years ranging from Christmas Saving Clubs, shopping all year, and forensic planning, realizing marginal success.  Here are some tips that over the years have kept me out of the red, and able to sail into the New Year without a stack of bills.

$$$$ Set a budget for what you intend to spend, but don’t make the mistake I’ve made for years. I always came up with a list of people, on this list was their name, intended gift to purchase, and a box to check when purchased.  In retrospect, sorry for the recipients, whose presents were purchased last, not really, I just overcharged and was happy to be done.  I found a better way to handle holiday finances, set a realistic holiday budget that focuses on the amount of money you want to spend, not what you want to buy. This is a bigger challenge that it may seem. It has taken many failed attempts to get it right and not stack up debt, and then I realized most of the debt I incurred was a result of the additional food, liquor, forgotten presents, Christmas tree, entertainment, and the list could go on and on!  Since the expenses and the budget changes from year to year, you need to re-establish a budget early and accurately include all expenses in your budget as not to be short on money and dependent on credit cards.

$$$$ Budget in hand, how to make it happen. Pay cash! Sounds good, but I have difficulty doing so.  I like charging my purchases, stores keep track of what was paid for an item and if you lose your receipt and need a return, you get the price you pay, not the sale price.  Since my budget is based on what I comfortably can spend and pay off immediately, I’m able to do this with pretty good success. My motivation comes from memories of paying off high-interest charge cards into April or May on presents I can’t remember.  So, starting off preparing for the holiday season early (October), you are able to take your time getting presents and diminishing impulse buying. 

$$$$ In the past some of the things that have gotten me into trouble was overspending to get rewards. Last year on cyber Monday at a department store purchasing a lipstick, I was invited (sarcasm) to spend $28 more and receive a free gift worth $125. I fell for it, and received a bunch of samples in a naugahyde bag, how foolish and frivolous!  Normally, I would blog about the products in the free gift, but, I was so rip-roaring mad that I fell for this, I didn’t! 

$$$$ In addition to budgeting, there are some other strategies I use before and during the holiday season. Early fall, I’ll make a leisurely trip and visit the alcohol store. I pick up a mixed case of wine (20% off whole cases), using some as gifts and entertaining.  I try to limit my time physically in stores so that I will not be tempted to overspend.  I shop online, only in the stores that offer free shipping and postage paid returns.  If I really need something from a store that doesn’t have free shipping, I will order online and pick up in store, if possible.  There are tons of suggestions, to limit overspending during the holiday season, but the one I like that helps rein in my spending is, remember the reason for the season.  No matter what you celebrate, keep the holiday’s spiritual message in mind!  

Have a great week!  

Comments

  1. Mary Ann, good suggestions. I’m a bah humbug person – the holidays are my least fave time of year. The pressure and financial burden and it’s a busy work time. I’ve managed lately because I buy for my parents, 2 grandkids and their parents and a couple trinkets to a couple friends. That’s it. No charging up large amounts and no big productions. I like the holidays to be about being together, food, wine and laughter.

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