It's that time again, it's almost Thanksgiving, and Thanksgiving means Christmas shopping, and our experience has been once the Christmas shopping has started, any chance of getting the spending under control is over. Want to briefly go over seven tips to help you prepare financially for the holidays.
First, try to take a look at what you spent last year. Were you happy with what you spent? If you were, then do what you did last year, that's simple.
If not, number two, start making a budget and gift list now. Shopping is an arms race. Once you've bought something for Uncle Fred, you have to spend at least as much for Aunt Mildred or whoever the relatives are, so we need to get this under control right now. Figure out gifts, decorations, foods, activities, donations.
Three, set aside the money. Set the expectations early, work from the end game back. If you've got a $2,000 budget for Christmas, then you need to work back from that point. If you have a $10,000 budget, you work back. If you have a $1,000 dollar budget, you work back. When you look at the budget first and work back, you'd be surprised how much you have to throttle back what you're willing to spend on each and every person, especially after the cost of decorations, dinners, and all that other good stuff.
Number four, shop now. There's a lot of opportunities. We have online shopping, Cyber Monday, Black Friday. Be careful with black Friday because you can get caught up in the excitement. Shop smart, shop sales. Do your homework, look for competitive pricing at major retails, and of course, watch those warranties.
The fifth option is to get creative. Baking, homemade goods, gifting charity in the name of the recipient.
Six, use cash if at all possible, and by cash, I mean cash, then check, then debit card. Only if you have no choice, go to credit and then stick to low interest rates, and let's get that credit paid down. There's a lot of psychological study done on the impact of cash versus credit. People will spend 60 percent more on credit than they will with cash. If you weren't willing to pay in cash, you shouldn't pay.
Seven, get ready for next year's holiday season. Think about it now.
These seven tips to help you prepare financially for the holidays were brought to you by Efficient Wealth Management, a boutique wealth management firm based here in The Woodlands, Texas. My name is Paul Carroll, and I wish you a very happy holiday season. Thank you.