Commentary: Avoid busting your budget during the holidays
The holidays are a festive time filled with family, friends and, in many instances, gifting to our loved ones. For those of us who are especially generous, it can be easy for the costs incurred during the holiday season to get out of hand. Oversp...
The holidays are a festive time filled with family, friends and, in many instances, gifting to our loved ones.
For those of us who are especially generous, it can be easy for the costs incurred during the holiday season to get out of hand. Overspending in December can make for an unpleasant January when the credit card bills come in.
This year, keep the following in mind to help you keep your spending under control during the holidays.
Write down a budget-and stick to it. We've noticed that our clients who write down their financial goals are more likely to stay committed and eventually reach them than those who simply internalize them. Write down a number that works within your budget and aligns with your core values. Make sure it's a number that you'll able to pay off when the credit card bills come in. The last thing you want to do is to start 2016 off by incurring inefficient debt.
Keep in mind that spending during the holidays consists of more than just gifts.
Make sure that whatever your budget is for the holidays is inclusive. Travelling, holiday dinners and new decorations for your home all count, and those costs can quickly add up.
Embrace the Internet. The Internet makes an infinite number of items available at our fingertips, thereby making it easier to satisfying our shopping itches (and potentially making it easier to overspend). But the Internet also offers a bevy of tools to compare prices and help you pay the lowest possible price for the things you're buying this holiday season.
There are apps you can use to look up the various prices of a particular gift on your smartphone, and who doesn't have one of those with them at the mall these days? Similarly, there are websites that track the costs of flights and hotel rooms if you're travelling. And shopping online can help you take advantage of a last-minute deal without having to stand in line at the register. After all, time is money.
Remember what's important. If you're getting overwhelmed during the holidays, or if you're feeling the possible pinch from overspending, take a deep breath and keep things in perspective. The holidays aren't about stuff; after all, the best memories people tend to have around the holidays aren't the specific things they received. It's the time spent with their loved ones and the memories they shared together that are often the lasting impressions of the holiday season.
We recommend a holiday budget not because having more money makes the holidays happier. Rather, overspending has a tendency to make the holidays less happy. Stick to your budget this holiday season to help ensure it's a joyous time for you and your family.
Bruce Helmer and Peg Webb are financial advisers at Wealth Enhancement Group and co-hosts of "Your Money" on KLKS 100.1 FM on Sunday mornings. Email Bruce and Peg at email@example.com .