Financial Survival for the Holidays
3 Tips to Control Spending
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Or is it? Holiday shopping can be an exciting adventure or an arduous chore. Regardless of your perspective, it is an inevitable part of the season and a time when many feel pressured to reach deeper into their wallets than what they’re comfortable with. Keep your spending in the black this year with these simple tips.
Before setting foot in a store, sit down and plan out your holiday spending. Who’s on your gift list? Neighbors, teachers and co-workers? Or does your list only include family and close friends?
“Every year my wife and I sit down and make a comprehensive list for everyone we plan to give gifts to,” says Angelo DeJesus, senior vice president of exam management with Zions Bancorporation. Regardless of who nets a spot on your gift giving list, knowing who you’re shopping for helps eliminate unplanned spending.
Saving tip: Set up a gift exchange for extended family members or friends. Draw names, set a spending limit and buy only for the person you picked. This approach can simplify your gift list, save money and ensure everyone receives something.
Make (and Check) Your List
Once you’ve determined who you will be shopping for, write down how much you plan to spend on each person. Be sure to set reasonable spending limits based on what you can afford right now — not what you can afford to charge on your credit card. “By setting a budget for each person on our list, we are able to stay focused on the true meaning of the holidays,” says DeJesus.
Keep an inventory of your purchases, documenting items and the amounts spent. Make sure your list is easily accessible, so you can reference it frequently. Consider creating a spreadsheet using free software (such as Google Docs) or an app to access your list from your phone and share it with others if needed.
Savings tip: Regularly updating your gift list inventory will keep your shopping focused and your spending within budget.
Spend less this holiday by thinking outside the gift box. Consider your talents and find a way to share them as gifts. Do you play the piano? Offer lessons to someone who wants to learn. Love to cook? Write down your favorite recipe and gather the dry ingredients needed to make the meal (or treat) for a thoughtful, personalized gift.
Look for experiences to share rather than items. If you are planning a family vacation, make the trip the focus of your holiday gift giving for your children. Instead of buying toys, purchase items they may need for the trip, like a new swimsuit or luggage.
Savings tip: Look around your house for items you could reuse, recycle or regift.
The holidays are a time to celebrate, but that doesn’t mean you should succumb to the pressure to spend beyond your means. Remember, kindness is a gift everyone can afford to give.