Holiday Spending

Now that the Holiday season is coming into full swing, I thought I spend a little bit of time talking about keeping your budget and money in control when it comes to the giving of gifts, the getting of gifts and some ideas to make your thought count without breaking the bank (or bending your credit card).

The Holidays are a time of year where we can reflect on the people in our lives that we love, miss and want to give back to for all they have done for us throughout the years. It’s natural that we want to give as much as we can and often what we want to give may not equal what we can afford. In some cases, the number of people we want to give to exceeds our budget as well. This is where we can get into trouble. After the initial hype and high of the giving is over, the credit card bills start to come in – truly the gift that keeps on giving – or perhaps an emergency fund was spent and now needs to be rebuilt. God forbid we take out a home equity loan to fund Christmas.

Here are a few things to consider when getting ready to give gifts:

  1. Have a budget in mind either for your total gifts or per individual, up to a total maximum amount. For example – your total gift budget may be $500. Or it could be $25 per person, up to $500. And stay within that limit.
  2. Consider the gift you’re giving and what the person really wants. It might not be as expensive as you think, or have to be as expensive as you think. Sometimes we get caught up in what we “think” the person wants or should have. True gifts are unconditional.
  3. A hand-written Holiday card goes a long way – all for the price of a postage stamp and your time.
  4. Sometimes the best gift is time spent with loved ones – it’s the only thing we can’t buy more of.
  5. Remember when you made crafts for mom and dad in school? It still works. This is also true for many people in our lives. Try making a photo collage, picture book, etc., that can be given and used and enjoyed throughout the years. Some of the gifts I’ve given my loved ones from this area are the ones they still have.
  6. Give back. Support a local charity. Take used clothes and toys to places that give them to those less-fortunate in the community. And take your kids with you when you do it. The lesson in giving and humility is priceless.
  7. Have a tough person to shop for? Make a donation in their name to a cause they support.

Granted, this list isn’t exhaustive – but it’s a place to start. The point is that you can still give of yourself, give the gift of love, friendship, goodwill and kindness while still giving a “material” gift – it just means you don’t have to go broke or be stressed in the New Year paying off last year’s Holiday.

Happy Holidays!

About the author

Jim Blankenship, CFP®, EA

Jim Blankenship is the founder and principal of Blankenship Financial Planning, Ltd., a financial planning firm providing hourly, as-needed financial planning and advice. A financial services professional for over 25 years, Jim is a CFP professional and has earned the Enrolled Agent designation, a designation that qualifies him as enrolled to practice before the IRS. Jim is also a NAPFA-registered financial advisor, which designates him as a Fee-Only Financial Advisor.

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