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Are there holiday spending mistakes to be made?

November 29, 2012

It is that time of year when we think about Christmas shopping and what to buy, who to buy for and how much to spend. Some people have an easy time with it and some people find it difficult. With the fragile economy  there are some spending mistakes that can be made. And holiday spending mistakes are like fruitcake: they reappear, year after year…

Are you buying out of guilt? Confusing spending with celebrating? Blowing your budget on trivial items? Or maybe you’re putting gifts on credit because that seems easier than admitting you can’t afford presents in the first place?

Instead, enjoy the holidays for a change and ditch debt-related stress. here are four holiday spending mistakes — and how you can avoid them.

  1. Going overboard on gift wrap. Shoppers tend to buy expensive wrapping paper or gift bags impulsively. During the holiday season, it’s easy to rack up $100 in gift bags, wrapping paper and wine bags. Reuse instead. Recycling bags and ribbon is “perfectly acceptable today.”
  2. Charging too much. To cut the costs of Christmas, keep the credit cards under wraps. Tons of research shows that people spend more money when they charge things. If you can pay with cash, you’ll always be a little more aware of what those gifts cost. If you don’t feel safe with money in your pocket among the holiday hordes, then use a card, but keep a running tally in a notebook or smart phone. That way, you’re less likely to add to your list of recipients or buy impulse gifts. Rather than adding everything up as you go, set a total budget, then subtract what you spend as dwindling balances tend to be more real. And don’t get an interest free loan so you can overspend on Christmas; that sort of long term borrowing also sets you up for financial failure.
  3. Shopping while guilty. Shopping and negative emotions — guilt, panic or mob mentality — make an expensive combination. Many consumers budget more “out of guilt.” What we must remind ourselves is that money doesn’t equal love or affection. Short-term sales create an emotionally charged situation. Whether it’s a flash sale, a Black Friday deal or a weekend special, the fear of “missing out” can override common sense. Being in a crowd can also change the way we think. When everybody is grabbing for something, we feel we should be grabbing for it too. Online shoppers are not immune. Surfing late at night when you’re exhausted or after a few glasses of holiday cheer can get expensive. The solution in any venue is to take a timeout. Put an item in your cart, but wait at least 20 minutes to buy it, if it still appeals to you then it is probably something you want.
  4. Not trimming gift lists. Long before you trim the tree, trim the gift list. If money is tight, it’s likely not a secret. Announce how you’ll handle holiday gifts this year – whether it’s no presents, children only, exchanging names, buying a gift or whatever works for you. For some people , their love language is receiving things; you have to give them notice. You don’t have to tell them your whole business, but just say, “I have assesses my financial life and it’s a mess. And this holiday, I have decided to straighten out.” And you can still find ways to let special people know they matter. One option is gifts of food that you enjoy making…or a real handwritten note with just a few lines to say what this person has meant to you this year or in general…that shows you are thinking of the person…that’s huge!

As my kids have grown into adults our gift giving has been so much easier. Probably because they have their own families and have begun their own traditions. What ever your traditions are Gunwel Associates can help you with any financial upset you find yourself  facing. Remember we have all been there and we can help. Give us a call today at 615-730-9444 and visit our website at www.gunwel.com. You work hard for your money, let us work smart to help you keep it. Happy Holidays!

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2 Comments leave one →
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