A holiday spending hangover isn’t much different from indulging in too much holiday eggnog – both start with a fun time – yet they end with a morning (or next billing cycle) feeling of regret. Was it worth it? How will I/we recover? And lastly, the declaration of “I’m NEVER doing that again!” Well, as with the day-after-regret of having one too many adult beverages, there is a way to learn and grow from a holiday spending hangover.
Here are seven tips that provide the perfect remedy to financial stress from the holidays.
- Plan ahead – Before you begin your holiday spending, set a realistic budget. Once you determine an amount, set aside money throughout the year. If you plan to use a credit card, think about what you can afford to pay back in January (or the next billing cycle if you start shopping earlier than December).
- Keep track of other costs – Don’t forget to include costs beyond your gift purchases, such as postage, gift wrap, decorations, greeting cards, and charitable contributions. Also, equally important to keep in mind is the end of the year is a time when large annual expenses, such as property taxes and homeowner’s insurance are due.
- Make a list and check it twice – Limit your holiday spending to family and close friends, noting how much you plan to spend on each. If you plan to donate to a few charities, include the total amount you plan to donate and how much each charity will receive.
- Shop early and space out purchases – Avoid holiday spending if you feel rushed or under pressure. This often leads to overspending. Make sure to comparison shop online first, or download an app that lets you compare prices before you buy anything.
- Avoid impulsive spending decisions – Finding a spectacular deal on something you’ve been wanting can easily throw you off track. Stay strong and stick to your budget! Don’t fall victim to limited-time offers geared towards trying to get you to spend more.
- Use credit wisely – Limit the use of credit for holiday spending. If you plan to use a credit card, try to use one – preferably one with the lowest interest rate. Set a realistic timeframe for when you can pay off your holiday expenses, and commit to paying off the balance at that time, or more than the minimum payment due. Be sure to check statements for unauthorized charges and report them immediately to your creditor.
- Save your receipts and get acknowledgements for charitable donations – Not only will you need receipts for possible returns, you’ll need them to keep track of what you’ve spent. Knowing how much you spent will help you plan a holiday budget for next year. Retaining receipts or acknowledgement letters for charitable donations will be necessary if you want to claim them on your tax return.
While the holiday season is a fun time to exchange gifts with family and friends, staying within a realistic budget is the best therapy for curing a holiday spending hangover. However, if you want to look at the bigger picture on how you can create a financial plan for your future, schedule an appointment to meet with a wealth management advisor at Independence Financial Advisors. Their team of experts are professionals who will work with you to develop a sound financial plan for every stage of your life.