overspendingI took my two-year old daughter, Lexi, to Trader Joe’s yesterday to buy two turkeys. Over the past couple years I’ve picked up the hobby of smoking meat, so I’m going to try smoking a turkey for the first time, and just in case something goes wrong, I’m going to fry the other one.  If you’ve never gone to buy a turkey at Trader Joe’s – do it, and take a child with you.  Lexi got to ring the bell and the staff all made gobbling noises.  Needless to say, she had a huge smile on her face as we left the store!

The reason I mention this story is I can’t believe how quickly the holiday season is upon us, and the expenses that come with it (turkeys aren’t exactly cheap!).  As a financial planner, it’s always a scary time because you have your clients plan for holiday expenses year-round, but now is the time that we all have to rely on our fiscal discipline and not over-spend.

Below are 4 easy steps for your holiday spending:
Plan & Track. As with all things financial, knowledge is power.  If you know how much you have available to spend, and then track your spending as you go to make sure you don’t overspend, you’ll actually be able to enjoy your time with your family over the holidays and not have the fear of the unknown always in the back of your mind.

Research. Some people like the excitement of shopping with the crowds, while others don’t.  However, with the ease of online shopping these days, there’s no excuse for not getting a good deal.  Websites like fatwallet.com/black-friday, theblackfriday.com, and amazon.com are good places to start for both brick & mortar and online stores.  Once you find a certain gift, do 2 quick Google searches; 1) to see if you can find it cheaper anywhere else, and 2) to see if the store/website you’re going to buy it from has any coupon codes for a discount and/or free shipping.

Get Creative & Dirty If You Have To. As a parent, some of the best gifts I receive are those made by my girls.  What if you could save money and give a present that means more to the person you’re giving it to??!!  Does your daughter need a Barbie Dream House?  Or, can you make something way sturdier/cooler for less money?  Whatever you need– go to pinterest.com first.  It might be that the thing you were going to buy in the store could be made for far less, and mean much more to whoever is receiving it.

Stop the Madness. Seriously.  When I look at our budget, I see how incredibly blessed we are; but the “reason for the season” has nothing to do with gifts.  While most people won’t say it, cash is STILL tight for everyone.  Don’t be afraid to tell the ones you love to bring a special dessert to enjoy time together and forgo gifts.  You’ll have more fun, stress less, and truly experience what the season is all about.

One of the most rewarding parts of my job is being able to help people with their cash flow/spending plans so that they can enjoy the people/things in life that are the most important.  Everyone tells me to cherish these moments with my young girls, and I know I’ll always remember that trip to Trader Joe’s!  If you’d like to sit-down and discuss my system for tracking expenses and planning ahead, please give us a call at 913.402.6099 to schedule a free consultation.