Holiday Spending: Stay Focused on Your Finances

Holiday Spending: Now is the time to stay focused and watch your budget.

Keeping in mind that the end of the year is also a heads up of the new year to come.  Regardless of how you celebrate in the name of what you celebrate or where, being mindful of your finances should help make the holidays that much brighter for you.  Typically by this time of year I have some idea of what monies I have available to spend and to what degree the gift giving will go.

Holiday Saving Club Accounts let your save a little all year slowly and gain interest
Holiday Saving Club Accounts let you save a little all year slowly and gain interest

One trick I’ve played on myself is to let the FSA reimbursement checks accrue in an account, in a folder, on my desk or someplace and then use them to make the holiday budget.  This accrual method has worked for me for years, works just as good as any Christmas Club type plan.  Good thing about this accrual type approach is it lets you target and budget, even if you want to splurge a little bit and take a trip or buy something a little more expensive than usual all while staying in the same pattern of saving, bill paying and keep up with the household economics such as heat and new blankets for the winter.

 

Unless your the savviest shopper, this is a sucker's game
Unless your the savviest shopper, this is a sucker’s game

Consumer Traps Turned Up During Holiday Time

Be on the lookout for the 15% off game.  Stores off their own credit cards to shoppers and entie them by offering something like 15% of more off of the entire purchase today.  This is a Sucker’s game unless you are the best of the best when it comes to due diligence, what’s known as a sophisticated shopper.  Don’t let your ego take advantage of you, you may not be as sophisticated as you think.  These store charge anywhere from 20% to 30% or whatever the legal limit is and very few folks squeak by without getting caught up paying the heavy fees at least once, and once is all they need.  Just think of it this way, they offer you 10% off to have an opportunity to charge you 30% extra. Stay focused. Not to mention this makes you think you’ve extended your buying power, wrong again.  You’re only extending the opportunity to buy more stuff at a potential 30% hike.  Who wants to buy something that costs $100. for $130. instead???  Well, that’s what it becomes. Stay on budget and steer clear.  Let the less than savvy shoppers take this deal, it allows the retailer to make those deep discounts and Black Friday deals, that you pay cash or debit for.

 

Better Ways to Gift Money

Stock Certificates as GIFTS
Stock Certificates as GIFTS

The holidays also another opportunity to learn, teach or usher in new habits of personal finance management.  One of the not so advertised or marketed gifts is the gift of stock ownership, while it’s difficult to stack up against a new watch, trendy shoes or game console it may serve well a an add on or secondary gift that may outlast all of the foregoing.  Sort of the “teach a man to fish… ” idea, very inexpensive to buy one, two or even ten shares depending on your budget in the name of the person your buying it for and have the stock certificate sent to them. An actual stock certificate of ownership with the stated number of shares denoted on it.  You’d be surprised how such a gift may knock some one’s sock off, introduce them to the world of finance and investing and take things in another direction altogether for them.  Learning to become more than just a consumer and shifting toward an investor.

Like Netflix? How about the stock alongside the Smart TV pre-loaded with it.
Like Netflix? How about the stock alongside the Smart TV pre-loaded with it.

Great for kids as they will come to understand they can actually own a part of some of their favorite companies and brands such as Facebook, Netflix, Disney, Sony, Microsoft, Footlocker and many other well known companies.  You can Buy Stock Certificates as Gifts Here for more information on gifting stock certificates.

Happy Holidays 2015.

-Miles

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