Even though the holiday season is something most of us look forward to, it has a way of sneaking up on us every year. Many of us catch ourselves having no budget or gift plans by the time Thanksgiving comes around, which leads to frenzied Christmas shopping and overspending.
To alleviate some of the hectic holiday obligations, we’ve put together some ways to help you get ahead on seasonal spending and budgeting.
Start Early and Stick to a Budget
The most logical tips that seem to allude most people (including myself) is to start early, formulate a plan and stick to it. Create a list of everyone you want to buy for and what you will ideally spend. Once you have your list, commit a dollar threshold above budget per gift. For example, $20; if the budget was $50, the maximum you can spend is $70.
Assign a number to the threshold and don’t go above it for ANY gift. In an ideal world we would know the perfect $25 gift for everyone—but let’s be realistic, if you’re anything like me, you’ll overspend just to check it off the list and get out of the store. By baking some wiggle room into your plan, you can stay on track and better prepare yourself for when the bill comes.
Consider a Group Gift
Sometimes it’s unavoidable to go above budget, especially in situations where you know the person will get much more use out of a more expensive gift. Ask others you know that plan to buy this person a gift and see if they’d be willing to buy it together. One expensive gift they can use is better than a couple gift cards and some hand lotion, in my opinion.
Throw a Party Instead
Look at the people you’ve allocated smaller amounts for and consider throwing a party instead. Most material things will depreciate over time, but memories are valued. If you have friends or co-workers you’d like to buy something small for, a party can be a cost-effective way to consolidate the planning and expenses. It doesn’t have to be luxurious, and these people will likely be talking about the party for years to come rather than the bottle of cologne or gift card you bought them. This is also a prime opportunity for a White Elephant gift swap, which keeps costs low.
Keep a List of Ideas
One thing we know for sure is that the Christmas season will inevitably roll around again—it’s never too early to prepare! My tried-and-true process is to keep a list of all people I generally buy gifts for in my phone and jot down ideas as I spend time with them throughout the year. Even if it’s April and they merely mentioned that they’ve picked up hiking or yoga, write it down—it will remind you of ideas for when you need to buy a gift and it will save you a headache in the future.
Think outside the box and don't forget to compare prices!
If you are buying electronics, consider buying last year’s model. Most electronics only have minor tweaks between the last one and the new one, and it can save you quite a bit of money. Personalized gifts from Etsy or other platforms are another way to buy great gifts while keeping costs low. It puts a more planned and thought-out touch on your gifts. And finally, make sure to use price comparison apps while you’re in the store or shopping online.
The link below lists the best websites such as ShopSavvy and Price.com where you can scan items in store or search online and find which retailer offers the lowest price. Most of these advertise deals and coupons to save some extra money as well. However, maintain some caution while you are hunting for deals online—the holiday season is the most lucrative time of the year for most retailers, so scammers will be looking to take advantage of unassuming shoppers. The Schneider Downs Security practice has put together a list of tips to keep your private financial information safe and has been listed below as well.
We hope these best practices will help ease the financial burden of the holiday season for this year and for many years to come. Happy holidays!
Schneider Downs Wealth Management Advisors, LP (SDWMA) is a registered investment adviser with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). SDWMA provides fee-based investment management services and financial planning services, along with fee-based retirement advisory and consulting services. Material discussed is meant for informational purposes only, and it is not to be construed as investment, tax or legal advice. Please note that individual situations can vary. Therefore, this information should be relied upon when coordinated with individual professional advice. Registration with the SEC does not imply any level of skill or training.
About Schneider Wealth Management
Schneider Downs Wealth Management has been providing investment and retirement services since 2000. Although our service platforms continue to evolve, commitment to our clients remains our first priority. Our service is tailored to your individualized goals but built on the fundamental principles of our practice: fiduciary guidance, fee transparency and goal-based decision making. To learn more, visit our dedicated Wealth Management page.
You’ve heard our thoughts… We’d like to hear yours
The Schneider Downs Our Thoughts On blog exists to create a dialogue on issues that are important to organizations and individuals. While we enjoy sharing our ideas and insights, we’re especially interested in what you may have to say. If you have a question or a comment about this article – or any article from the Our Thoughts On blog – we hope you’ll share it with us. After all, a dialogue is an exchange of ideas, and we’d like to hear from you. Email us at [email protected].
Material discussed is meant for informational purposes only, and it is not to be construed as investment, tax, or legal advice. Please note that individual situations can vary. Therefore, this information should be relied upon when coordinated with individual professional advice.