The holidays are a fun and exciting time of year, but they are also a time when you can end up spending more than you expected. Keep in mind that you don’t have to bust your budget in order to show how much you care. Here are some tips for reining in spending while partaking in the generous spirit of the season.
Make a List
Many people spend as they go, buying presents when they see them and end up surprised when the bills arrive in January. You can avoid this problem by creating a list in advance of who you plan to buy gifts for, and you should budget for each. Then, check this total against your holiday savings to decide if you need to adjust your spending.
As you begin your shopping, remember that thoughtfulness really does count. Instead of searching for one expensive present, you may be able to save money-—and give the perfect gift—-by putting together a number of small items that relate to a loved one’s special interest. Someone who truly loves chocolate, for example, might appreciate a small basket full of treats you’ve chosen for them. Anyone with an interest in sewing or crafts could probably use a gift bag with a fresh stock of supplies for the new year. By putting together a lot of inexpensive items, you may be able to save money and show how much you care.
Hit the Kitchen
If you are a good cook—-or you simply have a foolproof recipe-—gifts of food are inexpensive and very popular. Whether you give a mixture of great holiday cookies or your grandmother’s prize-winning banana bread, your friends and family are sure to welcome the effort. In fact, you might not need to cook at all. If you’re fortunate enough to have some great family recipes that have received compliments over the years, write them out on attractive cards and tie them with a festive ribbon. These great gifts will spread the joy of delicious cooking throughout your circle of friends.
Good Deeds Are Gifts, Too
Many of the people on your list may value a favor done for them more than any expensive present. Couples with young children would probably be delighted if you offer to babysit so they can have some time together. You can surprise a friend with a very busy schedule by promising to do the weekly shopping for a month. Present each recipient with a beautiful card describing the good deed to be performed. Such efforts cost nothing more than a few hours of your time, but they are greatly appreciated.
Check Your List Twice
First, plan and purchase all you need for the lower-cost presents recommended here. Then, when you move on to higher-priced presents, keep an eye out for sales and comparison shop to get the best prices. You may find you can get the items on your list for less.
Consult Your CPA
These ideas will help limit your spending during the busy holiday season. If you have questions about your personal financial planning or need help finding someone to assist you, contact us at 508-830-0007.