Organizing your finances for the Holidays

10 Dec 2010, by Benjamin Luftman in Misc

The holiday season is upon us and who isn’t excited to spend time with family, eat a pile of decorated cookies and rip open those gifts you “weren’t expecting” to receive?

As adults, the holidays turn into more than sleigh bells and candy canes. A lot of families find it very hard to deal with the financial strains that come with all the wrapping paper and sparkling lights. No matter what type of personal struggle you are encountering this holiday season, don’t let the burden of financial stress get in the way of sharing this time with the people you love.

Here are a few tips to lower your stress and maintain control of your finances:

1. Budget – I know, I know. You hear this every year and you usually go overboard anyways, but why don’t we just let it sink in for a minute.
a) Calculate your disposable income by taking your monthly net income and subtracting your monthly expenses.
b) Use the remainder to determine how much you can set aside for shopping.
c) Only use that amount!
2. Stick to your list – Create a list for each person that you are shopping for and stick to the list! This is very important because the stores spend a lot of money and resources to entice you to into buying that “one last” gift near the register. Fight the urge.
3. Window shop from your living room – Online shopping has increased tremendously over the years. This will reduce any anxiety related to crowded stores, holiday music or screaming children on Santa’s lap.
4. Be aware of current debt – keep a chart of the creditors that you currently owe and take it with you when you’re shopping. Include creditor, balance due, interest rate, minimum amount and due date. This should eliminate the impulsive gift purchases.
5. Use your skills and emotions to create something meaningful– This speaks for itself in that the most memorable gifts are the ones that you put your heart into.

Happy Holidays!