Money Monday: Tis’ the Season to Be Spending?

Tips on how to thoughtfully manage your money during the holiday season.

Posted: 11/12/2012 08:00 AM EST
'Tis the Season to be Spending?

November officially kicks off the holiday season. Most people automatically expect to spend more money this time of year without ever giving much thought to setting budgets and spending limits. However, proactively planning ahead can alleviate debt that is typically accrued between the months of November and December. Having specific spending goals before you swipe your debit or credit card will make all the difference come January. Will you need to play catch up, or will you start the year off ahead?


A Thanksgiving Budget?

Who doesn’t love Thanksgiving? For some, it’s one of the few times during the year where families come together. If you’re the lucky one who gets to host this year’s feast, some careful planning on your part can prevent you from overspending. You might not immediately think about having a budget for your holiday dinner, but hosting Thanksgiving for even a small family gathering can get pricey very quickly. So, before you buy that first box of stuffing, consider what’s realistic for your budget and prioritize. Thoroughly plan your menu (based on your budget) before heading to the supermarket, and shop early when possible. If you don’t already, carry a calculator when you grocery shop so there are no surprises at the register. Also, share the responsibility with family and friends by making dinner a potluck.  

Charitable Giving

Giving back is especially important during the holiday season. Consider donating your time to local organizations who appreciate the hands-on help as much as they do the money. If you can give monetarily, plan for it in your budget and take advantage of your company’s matching programs (if available). Another option is to research giving networks, where money is pooled and decisions are made jointly regarding charitable contributions. While charity comes from the heart, it’s also important to track your charitable donations because they are likely tax deductible. 


Christmas Shopping: Earning and Using Shopping Rewards

Retailers often offer shopping rewards, like exclusive promotions, to encourage consumers to shop. Sign up for loyalty programs which can provide significant savings through coupons and other offers. Shopping rewards points can definitely be a plus if you can “bank” them throughout the year and use them toward holiday shopping. Streamline your rewards programs to only your favorite stores or brands. This way you can collect rewards faster by concentrating your spending where you know you will shop. Finally, many retailers offer instant discounts for simply signing up for their promotions online, or for following or liking their social media channels. Some stores offer on-the-spot discounts using text messaging and QRC codes; make sure you look out for those stores when shopping.


This article has been prepared for informational purposes only. The accuracy and completeness of this information is not guaranteed and is subject to change. Since each individual’s financial situation is unique, you need to review your financial objectives to determine which approaches might work best for you.


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(Photo: ERIC THAYER REUTERS /LANDOV)

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