Early planning can help you keep a holiday budget

This was originally published on Monday, August 19, 2013, in the Pacific Daily News.  Click here to subscribe to the PDN.

‘Tis the season to be jolly?

Believe it or not, the year is more than halfway through and the holidays are just a few months away. What better time to talk about saving and budgeting for the holidays.

Have you noticed that summer brings some great deals? Memorial Day, Christmas in July and Labor Day sales are ways that stores purge most of their older stock to make room for their upcoming new items. So what does that mean to you? Great savings! Start thinking about who is on your list.

• Shop early. Give yourself time to compare prices; don’t wait till the last minute. Being in a crowded store on a last-minute shopping spree is tiring. If you feel exhausted, you are tempted to just buy anything regardless of the cost, which ultimately will break your budget.

• Don’t be tempted. Have you ever walked into a store around the holidays with your list in hand saying, “This year it is going to be different; I’m staying on budget no matter what.” But then you get seduced by the fancy décor and jolly music, plus the added pressure that the holidays are only so many days away. Soon, that list does not seem so significant. Don’t get tempted. One of the best things about shopping off-season is that the seduction and pressure is not a factor. Think twice before you buy.

• Have a spending plan. Create your “nice” list by separating the list into three parts. The first part is the top tier. The people in this tier are your parents, siblings, spouse or kids. Those in this tier are the ones you plan on spending more on.

Beside their names, put a dollar amount as to how much you want to spend on them. The second tier is your close friends, your kid’s best friends, and so forth. The people in these tiers are the ones you plan on spending for a gift, but not as much as those in your top tier. Put a dollar amount beside their names. In the last tier are those that are not as close to you like co-workers, the mailman or your kid’s bus driver.

Think about giving those in the last tier a homemade gift such as cookies, cupcakes or homemade jelly. Put a total amount on how much you plan on spending for those in this last tier. Actually, you don’t have to “BUY” gifts for everyone. Be creative! The best gifts are those that are thoughtful and not necessarily bought.

• Keep your shopping list with you. Carry it in your purse, wallet or even smartphone. If you know what you want, you can breeze through the store without going off budget.

• Be creative. There are many websites that are dedicated to making useful homemade gifts for almost nothing. Take the time and browse these easy-to-make crafts. Start making them before the busy schedule of the holidays kick in. Store-bought gifts are great, but many people appreciate the time, energy and thought put into a homemade gift much more.

Michael Camacho is president and chief executive officer of Personal Finance Center. He has more than 20 years of experience in retail banking and at financial institutions in Guam and Hawaii. If there is a topic you’d like Michael to cover, please email him at moneymattersguam@yahoo.com and read past columns at the Money Matters blog atwww.moneymattersguam.wordpress.com


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s