There are two kinds of people: those who prepare ahead for the holidays, and those who wait until the last minute. Sometimes you can find a little in-between area, but not often. When you break it down, you will likely find that many in the procrastinating crowd realize that the first group experiences less stress and more joy during the season.
Here are a few helpful financial tips to keep in mind while transitioning to a well-prepared holiday expert.
Get the Whole Picture
Those who prepare ahead often realize that holiday spending is not just gift buying. They understand that the holidays sometimes mean new clothing for photos (and that photos sometimes happen well before December), food for holiday meals, cookie baking, and thank you gifts or tips for important people in your family’s life.
Adjust your annual budget so that you can account for these expenses earlier in the year. Increase your gift-giving budget between September and November, and that may leave you some more wiggle room for food and clothing in December. Need help estimating the amount you will be spending for the holidays? Americans tend to spend more each year, but you don’t need to be one of those statistics. Put these helpful financial tips for happy holidays to use!
Gift Giving at the Right Time
Events can often sneak up on you every year: the last day of school before winter vacation (teacher gifts need to be ready before then), family parties and other events (often require gift exchanges), or Channukah celebrations (which often fall well before the end of December). So, although you may have a big red circle around December 25th, your gifts and other purchases may need to be taken care of closer to the beginning of the month, or maybe even at the end of November.
How do you keep from falling into that trap of being surprised when many purchases hit you at once? Pay attention to retailers. You may believe they start advertising too early, but they’re giving you the signs that you should start planning now.
Sometimes you will find great deals on gifts as early as September. The real trick is to remember where you store the gifts (use the same place for all holiday gifts every year), and who that gift is for (write their name on the price tag and keep the tag on until you wrap it).
And If You Didn’t Plan Ahead…
You might be reading this a little too late, and thinking that you have a great plan for NEXT year, but what about this year? It’s not too late to put even just one of these helpful financial tips for happy holidays to use! Stop to think about the reason you are buying gifts for each person. Are you doing it because you feel you are expected to, or because you truly appreciate that person? If your new hairdresser hasn’t met your expectations and you are thinking of going elsewhere, that person does not need more than a regular tip at Christmas. Friends who haven’t been reciprocating gifts for a while might be trying to send you a message that it’s time to listen to.
You can also start to prepare ahead for those “Whoops! I forgot!” moments a year in advance. If you find a good deal on a great gift, buy two, and save the extra in a special place in case you think it would be perfect for someone else in a future year. Saving money by making gifts? Make extra, and stash a few of those away too. Just remember who received the first gifts, so you don’t give the same thing twice!
Whether you are happy to run the holiday spending as you always have, or you want to turn over a new leaf and spread your spending out, there’s no right or wrong way to celebrate your holiday. Take the holiday financial tips that work best for you to keep your family budget afloat for the year, or give us a call to learn how you can revamp your finances.