Holiday Spending Tips
For many of us, autumn is filled with outdoor activities, spending time with extended family, and the start of an expensive holiday season. Before you hit the mall on Black Friday or make your online purchases on Cyber Monday, consider these tips for getting the most out of your holidays while minimizing your expenses.
Setting a Budget
Before the holidays begin, consider creating a list of everyone for whom you would like to buy a gift and then assign a target dollar amount for each person. Make sure that the total value of all of those gifts is within your means. If not, you may need to reduce your spending or reduce the number of people on your list.
When you are buying gifts, don’t spend based on the recipient’s budget. You may have friends or family members who have higher incomes and/or who don’t have children. Your spending should be based on your abilities not of those around you.
If you’re shopping online, do a quick coupon code search or check a store’s Facebook or Twitter pages for promotions. There are also apps that allow you to scan barcodes to see if other stores nearby have the same item for less.
Types of Gifts
Gift cards may seem impersonal, but they allow for the receiver to get exactly what s/he wants and it allows you to keep to your budget. Buying a gift card means that you won’t have to worry about taxes or spending a few extra dollars here and there, because that will add up.
If you prefer something more personal, you can spend time with your relatives rather than giving expensive gifts. Most parents and grandparents get more enjoyment out of time with their family then they do accumulating more stuff.
An idea for your office, family, or a group of friends is to start a Secret Santa tradition. Everyone draws the name of someone else in the group and buys a gift for that person. Utilizing a predetermined maximum price for the gift allows gifting to be fun and affordable for everyone.
Parties and Dining Out
Of course, the holidays aren’t complete without parties. You may host a party or holiday dinner or attend one. Either way, make sure to keep an eye on your budget.
Friends usually ask if they can bring something to your party so don’t be shy. Ask friends to bring their favorite dessert or ask if they can bring an appetizer or drinks. Your friends will be happy to help and it can save you time shopping, time preparing, and money.
If you’re one to bring a gift or food to a friend’s holiday party, you may want to limit the amount of parties you attend or reduce the value of your gifts to stay within your budget.
Because the holidays often involve travel, I have found that people usually eat out more in November and December than they do in other months. Make sure to plan your meals in advance of heading to the mall or visiting your family. If you can’t eat at home before or after your travel, consider taking some food with you. At the very least, create a plan and budget for the restaurant of your choosing. Holiday travel is stressful and people tend to eat and spend more when they’re stressed.
The holidays are meant to be enjoyed and not something that causes significant stress. They definitely shouldn’t cause you to panic when you see your credit card bill in January. By planning ahead, you’re more likely to get the most out of the holidays.
The opinions voiced in this material are for informational purposes only and are not intended to provide specific advice to any individual. Consult your legal, tax, and/or financial advisor to determine what is appropriate for your situation.
Events & Sponsorships
Highlandtown Train Garden
We’re proud to sponsor the Highlandtown Train Garden again this year. It’s a wonderful holiday event for the whole family and a Baltimore City gem. Make it over to see all of the new buildings and scenes for 2019.
Invest in Girls
Debbie participated in Invest in Girls, Inc. (IIG) Role Model Exchange Day. They had great conversations and Debbie was impressed with the girls’ enthusiasm. Hopefully, exchanges such as these will help more girls learn about financial literacy and spark an interest in pursuing a career in the financial field.
Away from the Office
December 12th – 16th
Debbie will be out of the office. If you need anything, please contact Woody.
December 24th – 26th
We are closing the office for half a day on the 24th and reopening on December 27th. For those of you who celebrate it, have a Merry Christmas!
December 31st – January 1st
Our office will be closed for half a day on the 31st and on New Year’s Day. Have a wonderful holiday!
We are always accepting do nations for the local animal shelters – toys, tennis balls, collars, leashes, food, cat litter, cardboard trays, office supplies, cleaning supplies, towels, mats, washcloths, etc. We will accept donations Monday-Friday between 9am & 5pm.
Roxy’s birthday was this month. As usual, we all got to have cupcakes (or pupcakes) to celebrate. While PWM employees typically get their birthdays off, Roxy enjoys greeting clients so much that she prefers to come to work. In addition to the treat, she also got to have an extra long walk as part of our commute.
Elise and I had a daddy-daughter weekend to start off November. We traveled to Lancaster, PA to take a ride on the Strasburg Railroad, visit a train garden, and see how pretzels are made. We also stopped at Cherry Crest Adventure Farm for their petting zoo, corn maze, and other attractions. Elise and I had a great time and it’s sure to become an annual tradition.
Fenway’s ACL is on the mend. He’s made it to the office a few days this month and gets to go swimming again in December. It’s been a long couple of months for him, but his puppy spirit keeps coming through.
I hope you enjoyed this month’s newsletter!
Woody Derricks, CFP®, ADPA®
CA Insurance License #0C40217