Holiday Spending

For many, the holidays are around the corner. After all, Halloween has passed and retailers will begin a mad rush to put up displays, have they not done so already, to gather whatever holiday dollars that they can from consumers.

Radio stations will soon feature holiday music which will or will not get us in the spirit of the season. There will be a mad rush of the buying of gifts that will later be exchanged with family, friends, and perhaps even those to whom we may feel obliged to give a gift.

For many holiday spending will be followed by the holiday horror of the bills associated with over exuberant spending, drained bank accounts, and credit card statements that are brimming with various rewards points and increased balances.

Before you begin your holiday shopping I would like to ask you some questions. How many of the presents that you have received over the years do you remember? Of those that you remember, which ones did you truly cherish? If you are like many of the people I have known, the ones that you cherished were few and far between: often having to do more with special timing, or special thought rather than a slew of presents or a lot of money that was spent over the holidays.

Perhaps the best gift you and your loved ones can give is to place your holiday spending on a budget. For those of you who are seeking a number, many financial planners suggest keeping holiday expenses down to 1.5% of annual income or less. This includes such as items as gifts, food for parties, and travel that we may make related to the holidays.

Placing a budget on holiday spending can allow us to accomplish a number of very important factors. It can allow us to be more cheerful in our giving because we do not have to worry about the credit card statement around the corner. It often may force us to think what the other person may truly value as a token of appreciation.  Finally, may I suggest that many holidays are not about the gifts themselves, but more of celebration, relationships and remembrance? To spend too much on the gifts or entertainment may rob the holidays of their own meaning.

Any holiday guidance is always welcome. Please write with comments and questions.