NEIRG Holiday SpendingAre you among the millions of Americans concerned about your ability to afford to buy gifts during this holiday season for all the important people in your life?

Are you worried about balancing a budget and still being able to share in the excitement of gift giving?

You are not alone.

An expected leveling, or even a dip, in the gross domestic product and the uncertainty any new administration brings are factors influencing the spending habits of consumers during what is supposed to be the jolliest time of the year. According to a 2016 holiday shopping survey by credit reporting agency Experian, 55 percent of the people surveyed said they feel stressed about their finances during the holidays and 43 percent said the extra expense makes the holiday hard to enjoy.

Like pushing away from the table instead of having an extra slice of pecan pie, you have to be able to control your holiday urges. Determining how much you can afford to spend during the holiday season and having the discipline to stick to that target is the key.

You should have a budget that includes more than the cost of gifts. Wrapping and shipping gifts are added expenses. Traveling can be expensive. And hosting a holiday party can be a drain on your wallet. Here are three ways to plan your budget for the holiday season:

  1. Set Expectations

Set expectations early on with family and friends.  Many people are in the same position as you and will be relieved to agree upon spending limits or not even buying gifts for each other. Hint: Only buy gifts for immediate family members and younger children of your extended family. Send cards or celebrate the holidays as a group with everyone else on your list, such as friends and coworkers.

  1. Set Limits, Find Bargains

Once you have determined who you are going to buy gifts for, set a price limit and stick to it. Budgets can get blown up quickly without a disciplined approach. Hint: The earlier you start shopping, the more likely you are to find bargains on gifts and savings on shipping costs.

  1. Plan

Make sure you have the ability to immediately pay off any charges you put on your credit card. We’ve all fallen victim to opening that store credit card because you get 15% off your purchase, but think about your ability to pay it off. You may end up paying double or more of the purchase price in interest payments down the road. Hint: Lower the credit limit on your card as a way to keep yourself from over spending and be careful not to adversely affect your credit score by using all of your available credit.

If you are finding yourself struggling with your holiday budget or, worse, you don’t have a budget, then it’s time to make your first New Year’s resolution for 2017 and incorporate holiday spending goals into your cash flow budget throughout the upcoming year. At New England Investment and Retirement Group, Inc. (NEIRG), we advise clients to plan an overall holiday spending amount at the beginning of the year and save small amounts throughout the year for better cash flow management and less holiday stress!

If you’d like to discuss how NEIRG can help you with your overall financial plan, including your holiday budget, schedule an appointment today!