As wonderful as they can be, the holidays are usually pretty stressful. Between juggling your usual responsibilities, attending holiday parties, spending time with family and friends, and braving the crowds to shop or go out, there is never enough time or money. Here are a few tips we think are worth sharing to help ease your stress and get the most out of your time and money this holiday season.
1. Make a budget: Our recommendation for most families is that they don’t spend more than 1% of their annual household income on the holidays. So, if you have a combined income of $200,000, you would have $2,000 to spend.
2. Make a list: By making a gift list and thinking about how much to spend on each person, you’ll have a better idea of what your budget should be. Although it’s easy to overlook the small costs, those are the ones that can add up quickly. Remember that this budget should also include things like cards, postage, décor, wrapping paper and bows, food, parties, and even travel.
3. Create a spending cap for each person: This goes along with #2 - there are so many groups to buy for – family, friends, coworkers, even the mailman. We recommend creating a cap for each person – a total budget tends to quickly get out of hand when you don’t add it up until your shopping is complete.
4. Make a Plan: In addition to your list of who to shop for and your budget, plan out your shopping trips to save yourself time, avoid crowds, and avoid impulse purchases at stores you didn’t plan to go to.
5. Shop early: The holidays are always a busy time, and if you wait until the last minute to buy presents, you may end up overspending or having to buy more expensive items. Having extra time to compare prices is especially helpful when buying larger, more expensive gifts.
6. Shop online: Sometimes, you want to be able to see or touch something before you buy, but for everything else, consider doing as much of your shopping online as possible. By ordering from your own home, you have more time to compare prices and make better decisions.
7. Cash is still king: But, if you do plan to shop with credit, make sure you have enough money in your bank account to pay off the full amount when the bill arrives. Be sure to use a card that gives you perks – like frequent flyer miles, discounts on gas, or cash back. If you are good about taking the perks and paying the card in full, this can really save you some money. If you won’t be able to pay the full bill within the first month, you may want to consider opening a new account with a promotional interest rate of 0% - and paying it off before the promotional period expires.
8. Avoid gift tax: Remember, gifts up to $14,000 can be given tax free. You and your spouse can both gift up to $14,000 for a total of $28,000 to each individual.
Hopefully these tips will help you save some time, money, and stress this holiday season! If you have questions, you can contact us by clicking here, sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or calling us at (216) 520-1711.