October is many things to many people, but did you know it’s National Financial Planning Month? And we all know what’s looming two months from now! It’s not too late to do some planning for savings this holiday season, and get a solid foundation established so next year you’ll be sitting pretty come the holidays!
Let’s apply some financial planning to the holiday spending season that so many of us enjoy although it really can do some damage to our budgets, our credit cards, or our savings if we go too overboard, leaving us behind the eight-ball when the new year rolls in.
There are a few social-psychological matters we need to put in perspective. First off, there’s no need to get in a competition with others – be it a sibling, an ex-spouse, or a close friend – when buying gifts. And if people pull the old ‘we agreed not to spend more than $50 on a gift but I spent twice that much,’ then that’s on them not you. Next, if you are trying to budget or are dealing with some financial strains, be honest with people and let them know you’re not going all out this year. Yes, it’s difficult, especially with kids, but life lessons can be a valuable gift, too, and young people might surprise you with their understanding. You can also be creative and do special gifts like day trips to the movies, a favorite (and reasonably priced) restaurant, a winter hike, ice-skating, or laser tag with young ones – spread out over some time to ease the burden of all the spending being done at once. This approach also reinforces that gifts are not just of the material nature – that spending time and experiences with one another are often the most precious gifts of all.
Obviously, some people do better than others telling people what’s going on with their purchasing capabilities and if they have a need to change things up. But whatever you do, don’t guilt trip over it! It’s not a contest or a competition, and what you can or can’t buy doesn’t make you any better or worse than anybody else. And if it does in somebody else’s eyes, then you really have to realize where that problem lies – and it’s not with you! Easier said than done for many, but it’s time to liberate yourself from the destructive side-effects of guilt, especially as it relates to money!
Another suggestion is charity-gifting. It has become popular in recent years and a donation to a good cause highlights the truest sense of the giving season and represents hope for those who really need it most. When you give a charity gift in someone else’s name, that person might get that irreplaceable feeling of helping others – and it just might be the greatest present you can ever give them. You can also let the recipient actively participate in the selection of the charity. Researching various programs and agencies that help people with different needs can be eye-opening, mind-opening, and heart-opening. People can find purpose and get more deeply involved in a movement that may really inspire them. There are also a growing number of commercial entities that donate a percentage of their proceeds or donate their products to those in need. To get the wheels of your imagination rolling, here’s an interesting list of ten products and companies that donate to charity.
There are many good tips to stretch your dollar during the holidays and what better time to begin than during Financial Planning Month in October! Check out some of the great financial planners in the area! Here are some on the Greece Chamber of Commerce list. You can do some short-term planning to help you get more bang for your buck this holiday season, while also starting some long-term strategies that will have you golden for the holidays next year and beyond!
Some of these tips can also work for saving for a downpayment on a new home! If you are thinking about moving, contact us today!