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Managing Holiday Cash Flow

November 14, 2017

As we quietly slip into the holiday season most of us look forward to delicious food, families reuniting, and great festivities. This is also the season when managing a family spending plan, or budget can prove challenging. You do a little shopping here, a bit of dining there, and sprinkle in some online gifts and the next thing you know you’ve doubled what you planned to originally spend. Of course, right when you think you have your shopping all “wrapped up” you realize you’ve forgotten that crazy uncle or quirky friend. Or, if you’re at all like me, sometimes you just get swept up in the holiday spirit, throw caution to the wind, and purchase those “special” gifts only to wake up in January with a spending hangover. Below are some tips I’ve found that can help keep holiday cash healthy and happy:

1. Make a list and check it twice. A good first step is to make a list of all those you would like to gift to. Being in the digital age, this has become much easier. A list can be made “once” on your computer or smartphone and simply tweaked or updated once a year. Feel free to have categories as you see fit such as family, friends, co-workers etc. etc. The point is to get an idea of whom you would like to give to so you’re not making last minute or impulse purchases. For those of us who like paper and pencil keeping a journal is a great way to go.

2. Decide on a spending limit. Now, with step one completed, you can decide on your left and right limits in regard to your budget. This is where breaking your list down into categories can be really helpful. For example, you may decide that instead of movie tickets for your coworkers you need to go with $5 gift cards to their favourite coffee house. At this point, do your best to match your intended purchases to those on your list.

3. Take Advantage of Sales. Black Friday used to be just one day and now it is extended for a period of time. Many online retailers and stores have incredible deals starting now through Christmas. Some deals are only made available by following those retailers on social media. Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving weekend) is also a day when shoppers can purchase gifts at a discounted rate. The savings when buying items on sale can really help families stay on track with their holiday budget.

4. Get Creative. This is a great way to get the family involved and do something unique. When my wife and I were in our twenties we had limited spending capacity, to say the least. Instead of purchasing gifts we would make homemade jam and decorate the jars. These types of gifts can be both thoughtful and cost-effective.

5. Gift Exchanges and other ideas. Gift exchanges are a great way to minimize cost and often enjoy time together over a meal or event. Additionally, depending on your family rules for gift exchanges, these events can be both fun and exciting. Lastly, there a few families I know that simply don’t “do” gifts. They enjoy a warm and entertaining holiday season by spending their time enjoying meals, Christmas carolling, looking at Christmas lights and other activities.

Remember, this time of year doesn’t have to be stressful or break the bank. Try taking a little time to do some preplanning and enjoy those that matter most. After all, tis the season to be jolly. Happy Holidays!

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any #individual.