Five Holiday Spending Tips from a Couple of Financial Planners

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Financial Planning is all about planning for the holiday you really want.   And, with a few simple strategies you can bypass the overspending and avoid the guilt that often follows the holiday season.

Here are five tips from planners Carolyn Ozcan and Beth Remick, CFP® to help you enjoy a guilt-free, abundant holiday season.

Tip #1:  Figure out how much you really spend over the holidays.  Gifts are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to holiday spending.  A few holiday expenses most people forget are:  holiday-related travel, cards and postage, decorations and tree expenses, wine and spirits, entertaining and upgraded meals, new clothes for holiday parties , formal photo shoots, and holiday related home improvements.  Put a real number on your holiday expenses and then use the rest of these tips to manage the expense.  If you can’t afford  your list this year, calmly and intentionally think about what is most important and what is least important and start cutting or substituting!

Tip #2: Try to spread the expense over time (ie. 3 credit card cycles)   Pick up your holiday outfit as part of your fall shopping trip or better yet in January/February on sale for the following year!  Start stockpiling liquor and wine in October so you are ready for stress free entertaining come November.  Buy the cards and wrapping paper you need half price in January for next year!

Tip #4:  Do your gift shopping over the internet..  Sure online shopping is convenient, but it can also save you big bucks!  Even if I don’t get the very best bargain on every item, I find that I spend much less overall because I’m not tempted to buy stuff for myself.  The less time I spend in a mall or a store the less I spend.  It’s a fact.  Shopping begets shopping.

Tip #4:  Focus on what’s important.  Focus your spending on what is most important to you.  If you want a big party then cut back on the gifts or travel.  Wear something in your closet so you can splurge on new curtains that your guests will see over the holiday.  It’s your holiday, figure out how to enjoy it!

Tip #5:  Review Actual Expenses.  At the end of the holiday season, get that list of expenses out and update it with actual expenses and start a savings account for next year.  Divide the total by 10 and save 1/10th of the amount each month from January through October and you will truly have a worry free holiday next year!

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