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Want Happier Holidays? Make a Holiday Spending Budget

gift card handsYour strategy for holiday shopping should include more than just figuring out which stores have the best sales or deciding what to take when you camp outside in the cold waiting for big bargains. Your strategy for holiday shopping should involve some financial planning so you don’t find yourself wallowing in regret once the New Year hits.

Kiplinger.com offers “4 Tips to Keep Holiday Spending in Check” so you can give yourself the gift of fiscal responsibility:

Set a limit (and stick to it). If you are low-tech, you can decide on an amount to spend and then take that much cash out of your accounts…once the money is spent, you’re done shopping. More high-tech options include putting your holiday spending budget on a prepaid card with low fees or into a no-fee checking account.

Distance yourself from distractions. If you know hitting the mall will cause you to overspend because you can’t help picking up things you see, try looking for bargains online. If, on the other hand, you know that e-mails or social media posts with coupons and bargains are your weakness, unsubscribe from and stop following retailers to avoid temptation.

Give gift cards. If your efforts to put together the right assortment of gifts lead you to overspend, you can give gift cards—with a set amount, you can limit the temptation to add ‘just one more thing’ to a gift box.

Give fewer gifts.  Giving fewer gifts does not make you a “Grinch.” If you have had a rather lengthy gift list in the past, try setting up a gift exchange this year (you never know others may feel pinched too but have been to shy to mention it). You can also give the gift of your time (ex. offer to baby-sit) or the gift of your talent (ex. make cookies, offering to do yard work or computer repair).

Spending some time figuring out how much to spend this holiday season is a great way to invest in yourself and your financial future and have happier holidays.