With the holidays just around the corner, it’s easy to get carried away by the excitement of the season and overspend. While this may bring short-term joy, overspending can lead to financial difficulties in the future, especially if you’re relying on credit cards. With credit card interest rates exceeding 20% and inflation continuing to be an issue for necessities, it is crucial to be mindful of your spending to avoid financial troubles as we enter 2024. Here are a few tips to help you stay on track this holiday season:
Set Spending Limits
Managing finances during the holiday season is challenging. While it’s natural to want to be generous and have fun, it’s also important not to break the bank in doing so. To help with this, consider sitting down as a family to create a list of holiday priorities. Decide on a budget that you can afford. Make sure to stick to this budget and keep track of your spending regularly to ensure you’re staying within it. Using a money management app like Mint.com can be especially helpful in tracking your expenses.
Santa Doesn’t Cover Everything
It’s important to remember that Santa doesn’t cover all holiday expenses. Although gifts are certainly a big part of the holidays, there are other holiday-related expenses such as Christmas trees, decorations, parties, family meals, and more that can quickly add up. Therefore, it’s recommended that you factor these expenses into your budgeting process to avoid being caught off guard by unexpected costs. These expenses often surprise people when they check their monthly checking or credit card statements.
Remember Charitable Giving
For many, the holiday season is a reminder to fulfill their charitable commitments or goals. If you enjoy giving to charity, make sure to include it in your budget planning. Instead of gifting cash, there are other options that can help you meet your monetary gifting goals. Consider giving through low-cost stock positions in taxable brokerage accounts or Qualified Charitable Distributions (QDCs) from retirement accounts if you’re over the age of 70.5.
If a monetary gift does not fit your budget, remember that giving your time can be just as valuable. Consider volunteering with a local organization and even encouraging your friends or family members to join you. Spending time together for a good cause could be the most valuable time you spend this holiday season.
*Note: Please consult a financial planning professional before executing these strategies as they are specific to each individual’s situation.*
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Marshall Clay CFP, J.D., is a Partner and Senior Advisor at The Welch Group, LLC, specializing in providing Fee-Only investment management and financial advice to families throughout the United States. Marshall is a graduate of the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, the Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, Alabama, and is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™. In addition, Marshall is a frequent guest on local television stations as an expert on various financial planning matters.
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