Tips to manage your spending this holiday season

The holiday season is one of the most magical times of the year, but many of us fall into the trap of overspending. Here are some tips to keep you grounded.

Everyone gets excited—and maybe a little stressed—around the holidays. The anticipation and anxiety around both receiving and giving gifts, and planning holidays and gatherings, can make us reach for our credit card as an easy fix. There are ways, however, to avoid the resultant January financial blues.

PLAN EARLY

Some of us like to spend our holidays abroad. If so, remember to plan ahead. Try to finalize your travel destination and duration as soon as possible. This way, there is a higher chance of securing better deals amid the pricey holiday season while there are still availabilities. Once decided, consider exploring credit card offerings as some cards offer better travel rewards in the form of cash back or future credits.

ALLOCATE YOUR TIME WISELY

Examine your calendar and determine if there are flexibilities with your travel duration and timing. Some workplaces allow for additional days off during the holidays. Additional days can be utilized in conjunction with public holidays in the last week of December to create more flexibility with your travel schedule. Take good use of this. Some travel agencies offer cheaper packages if you can avoid the peak period by one or two days. Pencil in commitments as well as any other personal tasks and goals you would like to achieve. This will help when the holidays are filled with events and time management quickly gets out of hand.

PLAN YOUR GIFTS

Prior to diving into a mall, consider making a listing of friends and family for whom you would like to purchase gifts. Then, allocate a budget in total for each individual. Consider any hobbies or interests that fit this budget to avoid impulse or unsuitable purchases. Drafting the list early helps you stay organized. It even helps to keep track of promotions and coupons that may come your way throughout the year. Consider various retail outlets like online shopping sites. Online shopping may provide rebate tools and free shipping options. These can only be utilized if you order ahead of time as the holiday season may slow down deliveries.  Remember to shop around and compare prices first.

SEASON TO GIVE

The holidays are not always about tangible gifts. Consider whether it may be a good idea to give charitable contributions this year. It could range from volunteering as a family to putting aside funds to gift food or clothing to someone in need. Select a charity that is aligned with your values. Understand how the selected charity uses its funding by analyzing the percentage of funds put toward administrative costs versus providing direct assistance. Also, when looking for volunteer opportunities, be cognizant that some organizations may require long-term commitment as opposed to just over the holiday season.

All in all, do not let the hustle and bustle wear you down! Whether you are out and about running errands for the family, shopping for friends, or helping out in the community, don’t forget to take a moment to reflect on all that you have achieved this year. Enjoy the process—and the financial rewards of keeping a cool head.

KEEP THE CONVERSATION GOING

Any other tips you’d like to share? Post a comment below.

 

About the Author

Victoria Wong, CPA, CA

Victoria has experience in audit and tax at a Big 4 firm with a focus in hedge funds, private equity and insurance. Most recently, Victoria has moved into corporate accounting within the insurance industry. Victoria is committed to continuous learning and is always looking forward to traveling the world to see what is in store.