Tuesday, December 18, 2012

3 Simple Tips for Staying Within Your Budget This Holiday Season

3 Simple tips for staying within your budget this holiday season

Around this time of year I get a lot of requests from folks interested in knowing how to make sure that they don’t end up spending “too much money” during the holidays.
Obviously, the definition of “too much money” varies widely, but I think the common thing here is that the majority of the people asking this question have, in the past, ended up spending way beyond what they’d expected. I was in that group many years ago. The good news is that, it can be corrected rather easily.
Set a Specific Limit
Most of the issue with spending beyond our expectations stem from the fact that we don’t have a specific benchmark or target to begin with. Simply not wanting to spend “too much” is not enough to get you there. So set a specific target!
See the Details on Paper (NOT in Your Imagination)
Most of us make some kind of a list. But our lists have only names on them, or names and the gifts we intend we buy. While both are good starts, if you intend to really stay within your expectation, you must take it a bit further by including a dollar amount on your list, because that’s the only way you’ll know how much you’re actually going to be spending. It also happens to be the only credible way to spot any potential red flags so that you can make any necessary tweaks beforehand.
Understand that Gifts are Exactly That – Gifts
One of the things most of us can agree on is that the literal price tag on a gift doesn’t (and indeed shouldn’t) indicate the value of the recipient to us – because people are invaluable. So gifts are meant to be a token of our appreciation, not a total representation of someone’s value to us. The other thing we can agree on is that price, per se, doesn’t make a gift good or bad, does it? That’s why it is not a bright idea to let any third parties determine – either directly or indirectly – what you should be gifting. I learned that when it comes to gifts, it’s not so much about the price tag as it is the thought. Wouldn’t you agree that’s true?
I must admit, though, that one doesn’t have to be a personal finance expert to know these things. Anyway, happy and safe gifting!
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