Holiday Finances and Six Tips for Making the Most of Your Gift Budget

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Let’s take a bit of time to financially plan our holidays. Too often we don’t make a financial plan and, just like when we don’t have a plan for dinner, we get ourselves into trouble. Whether it is overeating or over spending, the results aren’t good. We feel guilty, and we have regrets.

So, spend some time today thinking of a number. This number will be your budget for holiday spending. Don’t forget travel expenses, extra groceries, entertainment and gifts…all the things we tend to do more of during the holidays.

Now work backwards, subtracting the estimated expenses you know you will have, like $150 for Christmas dinner, $200 for gas and a hotel for a trip to grandma’s. What is left is your gift budget.

If you have children, you are probably going to get them something that will give them immense joy. Something they have wanted all year. Usually these somethings come with a big price tag, especially as the kids get older. Be thoughtful about your gift giving and spending. But it is also okay to give each of your children a nice gift for Christmas, as a special treat. It is the obscene gift giving and year round treating that tends to be a problem financially.

Here are six tips for making the most of your gift budget:

1. Set a spending limit and stick to it.

2. Start your shopping early so you can be more wise with your choices. Every year that I have procrastinated, I ended up spending more money for gifts. I think a desperation mode kicks in.

3. Be creative. The best gifts are the well thought out gifts. A homemade food treat or craft shows your loving efforts. Or a decadent bath or body product, although expensive for what it is, may fit in the overall budget.

4. Remember, for adults, disposable and experiential gifts are a great way to go. For more on that, read this post.

5. Avoid gift cards, unless specifically you know the recipient needs one. I would rather have a hand knit pair of socks over a gift card any day!

6. Truly, it is the thought that counts. Just to be remembered is a heart warming feeling.

With a bit of planning and thought, we can all have a glorious holiday and stick to our budgets!

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