10 Helpful Hints for Holiday Planning

1. Planning for expenses should be an ongoing task….making an initial budget of expenses for the year, tracking them using a program like Quicken or Mint.Com and then reviewing to see if your actual spend matches that of your budgeted expenses. It is very easy to overlook and overspend if you’re not tracking it. If you’re already doing this, kudos to you! If not…we hope you appreciate the following tips for keeping holiday expenses under control.

2. Make a list of who is included in your shopping list. Don’t forget the little expenses that add up…such as gifts for teachers, daycare providers, housekeepers, pool service tech, yard care person, hair stylist and neighbors. Create an Excel spreadsheet that you can begin to use year-after-year to plan for the expenses and keep track of what you have purchased and the amount spent. Also, consider whether every gift is really important or not. You may get invited to several holiday events that have a gift exchange or white elephant gift. If it’s not required, perhaps opt out of bringing a gift. Often times, you end up with a gift you really don’t want anyway, but you’ve lost the cash for your gift.

3. Consider lowering the amount you spend on each person on your list, or reducing the overall number of gifts. Sometimes we get in the habit of buying gifts for friends and family members “just because.” Often, if it’s suggested that a gift exchange doesn’t take place in order to save some expenses, the person on the receiving end can be relieved/excited to have less to purchase themselves!

4. Plan in advance…if you see a good deal during the year, get it! Save it for a birthday or gift item later in the year. Although some gift receipts will expire, consider it an option because you can often find great deals towards the end of each season that you can use for a future gift.

5. Do your research in advance! Be on the lookout for deals…in stores and online. This will help you know what you want to purchase and what the price range should be, rather than getting anxious or excited that “it might be the only one” or “it’s a Black Friday deal.” You may end up spending a lot more than you planned on because you hear the holiday music and it somehow influences our purchases!

6. Pay in cash. Plan for it all year…and save for it. Don’t use a credit card or layaway to pay for gifts at a “later” time. This can sneak up on you. If you don’t have the cash now, you can’t afford it and should look for some alternatives. Also, don’t be tempted by discounts offered for signing up for a credit card. Each time you apply for credit, it affects your credit score. It’s simply not worth it to receive 10% off a one-time purchase and it’s often difficult to stop using the store’s credit account in the future.

7. Ask the question: Is this a “need” or a “want”? This question is good for nearly every purchase, but especially helpful around the holidays. When you walk into stores and see all of the beautiful decorations, it’s hard to not want a new wreath for the door, garland for the mantle, stocking holders, etc. These “wants” add up very quickly.

8. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Great plan for holiday décor and accessories! Gift bags are great because they can be used over and over again…it’s better for the environment and your budget! Gift tags can be easily made from your computer or with a little creativity (some rubber stamps, colored markers, glitter, etc.). It can even be a fun family project to work on together or a great gift idea to give to someone else.

9. Be “armed” with your discounts and coupons before you hit the stores. A lot of times, you can visit a company’s website to download and print off a coupon (for example, 40% off at Michael’s) before you head out to shop. And, sometimes making multiple trips to use your coupons can work out to your advantage if you are getting larger ticket items. You may spend another $3 in gas running back to a store but if you’re saving $25…it’s worth it.

10. Consider giving your time or providing a service as a gift.
Angel Tree Donations/Deliveries
Bake for a homeless shelter
Make a meal basket for families in need
St. Vincent De Paul (916) 781-3303
Decorate a Christmas wreath to take to an assisted living home
Volunteer at a local food bank

Ideas for Services you can give as gifts
(i.e. make a “gift certificate)
Car wash
House cleaning
Grocery shopping
Day of running errands

Ideas for Homemade gifts
(inexpensive and a special touch of love!)
Make homemade note cards
Cookies or other desserts
Make a dinner (can be frozen for later use)
Soup in a jar
Cookies in a jar
Cookie ingredients, holiday beverage mixes, baking mixes or bean soup fixings layered in a glass canning jar, or Mason jar. Mason jar recipes make easy homemade Christmas gifts. … We’ve got all you need to know to make gifts in a jar. …
Gift in a jar recipes, jar mixes and gifts in a jar from All Free Crafts. … “Free crafts, craft projects and patterns to make easy homemade gifts.” Free Patterns • Holiday … Layered soup in a jar, chili seasoning and rice recipes in a jar

If you have holiday saving tips not included above, we’d love to hear them! Or, if you have charitable organizations we could inform others about in a future newsletter, send those on as well!

If you like this blog and want to see the full newsletter published by Lynch Financial Advisors this month, click here: http://www.lynchfinancialadvisors.com/newsletter/nov-dec2011/ Or, to read our past newsletters, check out the newsletter archive on our website: http://www.lynchfinancialadvisors.com/research.html

Lynch Financial Advisors


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