Making the Most of your Holiday Budget

Holiday spending tends to be a budget buster. It is just like our tendency to overdo the dessert table, knowing we have the New Year around the corner to start over with a “blank slate”! Here are some tips to keep costs in check.

Set a holiday budget for the year – This should include gifts, decorations, and extra babysitting time for the holiday parties. You do not want to rack up credit card debt. The goal is to spend within your means while not feeling deprived.

Break it down – List everyone you have to buy for and decide on gifts and amounts for each. Remember, it is not about the amount. I have a few friends who give $5 Starbucks cards for special occasions. It is perfect! I can treat myself to a cup of coffee and biscotti on them.

Save the list – Keep the list of gifts given so you don’t repeat gifts. Nobody wants to be the Aunt or Uncle who gives a scarf every year!

Go creative with wrapping – Use repurposed gift-wrapping or boxes. My husband is a pilot and has a lot of leftover aeronautical charts. We use them as wrapping paper. It sounds strange but it looks great and people love it! The dollar stores also have some great holiday boxes in different shapes and sizes.

Encourage wish lists – My family does this through Amazon but you can do it through many retailers. It is the same concept as a registry. It gives the gift giver the opportunity to choose something within his or her budget that the recipient would actually like.

Join in on big-ticket items – Dinners out, golf lessons and zoo or museum memberships for the family are all things people can chip in for and give as a group.

Bonus tip: I asked some of the best gift-givers I know how they always come up with such a thoughtful gift. Their response – they write down ideas throughout the year as they come to them! Try it.  It is sure to make holiday shopping easier and more enjoyable.

Planning Within Reach offers professional financial planning throughout San Diego County, specializing in families with young children.

Submitted by:  Linda Rogers, CFP, MSBA, EA

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