Planning for the Holiday SpendFest

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Autumn brings the feel of the holiday season (aka, SpendFest). My family is in town and we always find ways to spend money. Eating out, groceries, drinks, small gifts, daily activities, the list goes on. It’s family, right? This is time to ‘live for today’ and cherish these moments. I could not agree more but I know holidays can cause havoc on your budget. For many families, 3-day weekends and the holidays (Thanksgiving/Christmas) account for over 80% of their debt. While the last thought on your mind is your budget, the repercussions of unencumbered spending can be devastating.

So how do you avoid going overboard? How can you enjoy the holiday season with loved ones and stick to your plan? Here are a few tips that might help:

  • Start saving early: Seems simple but most people don’t start until October and then, given their fixed bills, it’s too late. Get stated in January, put money away each month, and save twice as much as you think you need.
  • Tell family about your financial goals: You don’t need to share numbers but simply ask family members for moral support as you get your financial life in order. It creates accountability and they are far less likely to force any spending.
  • Be a creative leader: For gifts, encourage a spending limit and have a creativity contest. I know a family that gave an iPod to the most creative gift under $20. Each family member contributed to buy the iPod and then had to buy gifts – trust me, they all saved a ton.
  • Enlist help: Someone else in your family is definitely trying to improve their financial habits. Team up with them to find creative ways to avoid binge spending. If necessary, get the help of some of the more influential family members (assuming they agree with saving).
  • Teach the kids: Suggest teaching the kids about financial management and make it fun. Even if it’s 30 minutes, you will make an impact and show the family where you stand without being a ‘stick in the mud.'

The holiday season can be stressful as you try to balance living today with saving for tomorrow. Keep in mind, strong financial habits will enable you to leave a true legacy for the future generations. Enjoy the time with your family but don’t be afraid to follow your plan – it’s the best way to show your love.

What else? What other tips do you have to avoid going overboard during the holidays?

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